The Northwestern University Triplet Study. III: Neonatal outcome

Acta Genet Med Gemellol (Roma). 1988;37(1):77-80. doi: 10.1017/s0001566000004281.


Limited data suggest that cesarean section (CS) may be the preferred method of delivery for triplets. Despite this, it is also felt that the third triplet is at great risk at delivery. We reviewed our experience of 14 triplet pregnancies at Northwestern University between 1981 and 1985. All deliveries were attended by neonatal teams in sufficient number to resuscitate each infant. Of the 14 pregnancies, two ended in previable loss. Thirty-six infants were born from 12 pregnancies of a mean gestational age of 33 weeks (28-38 weeks). The overall survival was 97.3%. Two women delivered vaginally. While the first was successful, the second resulted in vaginal delivery of the first two triplets followed by emergency CS for the third. That infant had a cord blood pH of 6.96 (BE-19), was resuscitated and survived. All 10 CS were successful. The mean cord blood gas tensions and pH were normal. In addition, Apgar scores, the requirement for mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen, and mortality did not differ between the first and third-born triplet. These observations suggest that CS was beneficial. Our very low mortality rate supports the concept that CS delivery and aggressive neonatal resuscitation and therapy greatly enhances survival.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Order*
  • Birth Weight*
  • Cesarean Section / mortality
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Multiple
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Triplets*