A clinical opinion on how to manage the risk of preterm birth in twins based on literature review

Anna Collins, Andrew Shennan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Twin pregnancies are prone to preterm birth and consequent morbidity. There is an increasing evidence base concerning the prediction and prevention of preterm birth in singletons, including the reduction of morbidity with therapies such as magnesium sulphate and antenatal corticosteroids. However, the research in twins is less clear, partly due to fewer numbers being investigated, but also evidence is largely based on twins without a previous history. Prophylactic interventions such as cerclage, progesterone and vaginal pessaries are increasingly showing benefit in singleton pregnancies with a prior history and when the cervix is short. Cerclage in twins has not been adequately researched in women with previous preterm birth, and as with singletons should not be used on the basis of a short cervix alone. Vaginal progesterone does not work in twins, but its value in high-risk twins, with a prior history and short cervix is uncertain. The vaginal pessary may be valuable in the twin with a short cervix. Currently, it is reasonable to extrapolate some of the evidence from singletons to twins, e.g. with antenatal corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate. Cerclage, vaginal pessaries and progesterone should not be routinely used in twin pregnancies without an additional high-risk factor such as prior history of preterm birth or short cervix, until further evidence is obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1130
Number of pages6
Journal The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


  • Cerclage
  • preterm birth
  • twins


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