Moms of IVF-induced multiples often have the blues

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Having twins or triplets following assisted reproductive therapy (ART) increases the risk of depression among new moms, study findings suggest.

Assisted reproductive technology has been the key contributing factor in the 49% increase in twin birth rates, and the 423% increase in higher order multiples in the U.S. over the past 30 years, Dr. Marcia A. Ellison and colleagues note in their paper, published in the May issue of Fertility and Sterility.

And while the medical risks associated with ART and multiple births have been well documented, there have been few studies looking at the psychosocial risk associated with ART that results in multiple birth children.

To investigate, Ellison's group surveyed 249 mothers whose children had been conceived by ART. The study population consisted of 128 mothers of single infants, 111 mothers of twins and 10 mothers of triplets.

The investigators found that each additional multiple birth child increased the odds of having difficulty meeting basic material needs more than 4-fold. Moreover, the risks of reduced quality of life and increased sense of social stigma, were both more than doubled.

A multiple birth, the authors say, may expose women to unwanted public speculations and intrusive questions about their fertility status and their children's conception status.

The likelihood of depression also increased significantly with each additional child.

The identification of these risks may be helpful to doctors when talking with women seeking fertility treatment, Ellison's group writes, "as patients may underestimate the difficulties involved in raising multiple birth children, or may understand the risks associated with triplets but be naive with respect to twins."

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility May 2005.