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Multiple Births, 1980-2005

The rising incidence of multiple births over the last two decades has been associated with two related trends: the older age at childbearing (older mothers are more likely than younger mothers to conceive multiples spontaneously) and increasing use of fertility therapies. A study of multiples born in the year 2000 estimated that natural conception accounted for 67% of the twins and only 18% of the triplets and greater multiples born that year.

  1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Number of births:                    
Twins 68,339 77,102 93,865 96,736 118,916 121,246 125,134 128,665 132,219 133,122
Triplets and higher multiples 1,337 1,925 3,028 4,973 7,325 7,471 7,401 7,663 n.a. n.a.
 Triplets n.a. n.a. 2,830 4,551 6,742 6,885 6,898 7,110 6,750 6,208
 Quadruplets n.a. n.a. 185 365 506 501 434 468 439 418
 Quintuplets and higher multiples n.a. n.a. 13 57 77 85 69 85 86 68
                     
Birth rate:                    
Triplets (per 100,000 live births) 136.1 158.4 175.5 170.3 166.1 171.0 171.5 173.8 164.2 150.0
Quadruplet and higher multiples (per 100,000 live births) 16.5 15.2 17.9 14.6 14.4 14.6 12.5 13.5 12.8 11.7

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 56, no. 6, Dec. 5, 2007.