Are there risks with having quadruplets and how common are identical quads?

Coronation Street’s Gemma is giving birth to quadruplets and may be facing complications (Picture: Northcliffe Collection)

Coronation Street fans may be worrying about the fate of Gemma Winter who’s given birth to quadruplets.

Gemma goes into labour on a cable car while enjoying a day out with boyfriend Chesney Brown in North Wales.

Viewers are now concerned that something might happen to the quads born unassisted in the air.

One person wrote online: ‘Those babies will be premature and need special cots if not incubators.

‘The thought of them being born in a cable car with no proper facilities fills me with horror.’

So to those wondering, what exactly are the complications with delivering four babies? And how common is it to have identical quads?

The NHS recommends a hospital rather than a home birth for anyone having more multiples.

In the case of quadruplets, doctors and midwives need to be on standby in case complications arise.

Most common complications for multiple baby pregnancies

  • Preterm Labour/delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (when an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it’s not growing at a normal rate inside the womb
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Placental Abruption
  • Foetal loss
  • Caesarean

If you’re pregnant with multiple babies, the risks of certain things increase.

Growing two or more babies places greater demands on your body than a normal pregnancy.

You’re more likely to have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (gestational hypertension) than if you were expecting a single baby.

Pre-eclampsia is a complication related to high blood pressure that can happen in later pregnancy.

It’s more common in multiple pregnancies because having more than one baby places extra strain on the placenta or placentas.

Pre-eclampsia is at least three times more common if you’re expecting twins, and nine times more common if you’re expecting triplets, than if you were expecting one baby.

Your midwife might ask to take pee samples to check for evidence of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure and protein in your urine can be early signs of pre-eclampsia.

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) is another condition that could affect quads.

Multiple pregnancies grow at approximately the same rate as single pregnancies up to a certain point. In twin pregnancies, growth begins to slow down at 30 to 32 weeks.

For triplets, it’s around 27 to 28 weeks. And quadruplet pregnancies begin slowing at 25 to 26 weeks.

IUGR seems to happen because the placenta can’t handle more growth and because the babies are competing for nutrients.

Your doctor will monitor the growth of your babies by ultrasound and by measuring your abdomen.

While twins may be delivered vaginally, the typical recommendation for more babies is via caesarian.

But delivering twins naturally depends on the position of the babies.

Quads are pretty rare but the rise of fertility treatments are becoming more common.

Quads can be identical, fraternal (when two separate eggs fertilized by two separate sperm), or a combination.

Many sets of quadruplets contain a mixture of identical and fraternal siblings such as three identical and one fraternal, two identical and two fraternal, or two pairs of identicals.

If they’re fraternal (multizygotic) then it means four different sperms fertilised four different eggs.

Quads are identical where there’s a fertilised egg that splits into two or more embryos – it’s possible for a split to occur more than once (monozygotic).

In the latter case quads are almost always the same gender. In some cases you can get a monozygotic triplet plus one (which may be three girls and one boy or vice versa).

But as mentioned above, quadruplets are pretty rare.

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