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Multifetal pregnancies and births tend to be more complicated and have poorer outcomes than singleton pregnancies. Singleton pregnancies and perinatal outcomes are worse, on average, for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people, but little is known about Indigenous multifetal pregnancies.
Objectives and Approach
We comprehensively describe and compare Indigenous twin and singleton pregnancies and births in Western Australia (WA) and New South Wales (NSW) and compare to NSW non-Indigenous pregnancies and births. Birth records and infant and maternal hospital records were linked for births during 2000-2013 (WA) and 2002-2008 (NSW). Time travelled for the birth was based on the distance from the hospital to the centroid of the mother’s geographical residential area.
In the Indigenous populations, mothers of twins had poorer health than mothers of singletons (e.g. in WA, 19% of mothers of twins had hypertension/pre-eclampsia/eclampsia vs 9% of mothers of singletons). They were more likely to have antenatal care during the first trimester (e.g. 69% vs 64% in NSW), though less likely than non-Indigenous mothers of both twins (80%) and singletons (75%).The majority of Indigenous twins were born in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) (e.g. 66% vs 26% in WA) and many mothers of twins travelled further for the birth (e.g. 8% of mothers of Indigenous twins in NSW travelled 3 hours or more vs 4% of mothers of singletons). In both jurisdictions, outcomes were worse for twins than singletons (e.g. 67% of twins in WA were preterm vs 13% of singletons and 30% of twins were admitted to a NICU vs 6% of singletons).
Conclusion / Implications
Mothers of Indigenous twins faced significant challenges during the pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period in hospital and, in addition to accessible specialist medical care, these mothers may need practical and psychosocial support throughout their journey.
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