Published: Wednesday 17 October 2018
What are the top health research priorities for twins & multiples?
Are you a twin, higher-number multiple, parent, or health professional supporting multiple-birth families? A new global research collaboration is seeking your opinion on the most pressing multiple-birth issues needing research.
Twins Research Australia, based at the University of Melbourne, has joined forces with Twins and Multiple Birth Association UK (TAMBA), and St George’s University of London to launch a world-first Global Twins and Multiples Priority Setting Partnership.
The partnership aims to identify the top 5-10 priorities for research in twins’ and multiples’ health, and to reduce multiple-birth mortality and morbidity.
“We believe that multiple-birth health issues are not receiving sufficient attention even though the number of multiple births has increased over time – both in Australia and around the world,” said Deputy Director of Twins Research Australia, Associate Professor Jeff Craig.
“This collaboration seeks to re-dress this gap by asking those at the ‘coalface’ what the most pressing issues are for them,” he explained. “It’s their chance – twins, multiples, their families and health providers – to steer future research in the direction that matters most to them rather than having researchers setting the agenda.”
Assoc/Prof Craig explained that from conception, twins and multiples experience unique health challenges compared to singletons.
While multiple births account for around 1.5 percent of total Australian pregnancies, they contribute to a much larger proportion of deaths around the time of birth (about four times greater for twins, and 11 times greater for higher-number multiples, compared to single births).
Multiple-birth health issues can include: higher rates of morning sickness during pregnancy, and preterm, low birthweight and other pregnancy-related complications; zygosity confusion i.e. whether twins are identical or non-identical; unique challenges with childhood, social and educational development; and higher rates of post-natal depression and anxiety for parents of multiples.
“Ensuring your voice is heard is a simple and easy step,” Assoc/Prof Craig said. “It involves taking an initial 15-minute online survey available at www.twins.org.au (please note the survey is now closed).
"Participants will be asked to nominate up to three important unanswered health research questions for multiple-birth families on issues such as pregnancy, birth, parenting, childhood development and diseases, emotional and mental health.”
It is open to all stakeholders in multiple-birth health Australia-wide and around the world: twins, higher-number multiples, their parents, families, community groups, and health care providers such as GPs, obstetricians, paediatricians, midwifery and maternal health nurses as well as researchers and scientists.
“Ultimately, we are seeking to save lives and to improve the long-term health outcomes of multiples,” Assoc/Prof Craig said. “This is an opportunity for us to all work together to make sure research funding and resources go where they are most needed. Generations of multiple-birth families – now and in the future – are counting on us.”