Effect of monochorionicity on perinatal outcome and growth discordance in triplet pregnancy: collaborative multicenter study in England, 2000-2013

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Mar;57(3):440-448. doi: 10.1002/uog.21987.


Objectives: To compare perinatal outcome and growth discordance between trichorionic triamniotic (TCTA) and dichorionic triamniotic (DCTA) or monochorionic triamniotic (MCTA) triplet pregnancies.

Methods: This was a multicenter cohort study using population-based data on triplet pregnancies from 11 Northern Survey of Twin and Multiple Pregnancy (NorSTAMP) maternity units and the Southwest Thames Region of London Obstetric Research Collaborative (STORK) multiple pregnancy cohort, for 2000-2013. Perinatal outcomes (from ≥ 24 weeks' gestation to 28 days of age), intertriplet fetal growth and birth-weight (BW) discordance and neonatal morbidity were analyzed in TCTA compared with DCTA/MCTA pregnancies.

Results: Monochorionic placentation of a pair or trio in triplet pregnancy (n = 72) was associated with a significantly increased risk of perinatal mortality (risk ratio, 2.7 (95% CI, 1.3-5.5)) compared with that in TCTA pregnancies (n = 68), due mainly to a much higher risk of stillbirth (risk ratio, 5.4 (95% CI, 1.6-18.2)), with 57% of all stillbirth cases resulting from fetofetal transfusion syndrome, while there was no significant difference in neonatal mortality (P = 0.60). The associations with perinatal mortality and stillbirth persisted when considering only pregnancies not affected by a major congenital anomaly. DCTA/MCTA triplets had lower BW and demonstrated greater BW discordance than did TCTA triplets (P = 0.049). Severe BW discordance of > 35% was 2.5-fold higher in DCTA/MCTA compared with TCTA pregnancies (26.1% vs 10.4%), but this difference did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.06), presumably due to low numbers. Triplets in both groups were delivered by Cesarean section in over 95% of cases, at a similar gestational age (median, 33 weeks' gestation). The rate of respiratory (P = 0.28) or infectious (P = 0.08) neonatal morbidity was similar between the groups.

Conclusions: Despite close antenatal surveillance, monochorionic placentation of a pair or trio in triamniotic triplet pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased stillbirth risk, mainly due to fetofetal transfusion syndrome, and with greater size discordance. In liveborn triplets, there was no adverse effect of monochorionicity on neonatal outcome. © 2020 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Keywords: NorSTAMP; Northern Survey of Twin and Multiple Pregnancy; STORK collaboration; congenital anomalies; monochorionic placentation; perinatal mortality; stillbirth; triplets.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Chorion / embryology*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / epidemiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Perinatal Mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy, Triplet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology
  • Triplets / statistics & numerical data*