Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD003932. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003932.pub2.


Reduction of the number of fetuses for women with a multiple pregnancy.

Dodd JM, Crowther CA.


School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, Women's and Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 5006.



When couples are faced with the dilemma of a higher-order multiple pregnancy there are three options. Termination of the entire pregnancy has generally not been acceptable to women, especially for those with a past history of infertility. Attempting to continue with all the fetuses is associated with inherent problems of preterm birth, survival and long-term morbidity. The other alternative relates to reduction in the number of fetuses by selective termination. The acceptability of these options for the couple will depend on their social background and underlying beliefs. This review focused on reduction in the number of fetuses.


To assess a policy of multifetal reduction with a policy of expectant management of women with a multiple pregnancy.


We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (13 June 2012).


Randomized controlled trials with reported data that compared outcomes in mothers and babies who were managed expectantly with outcomes in women who underwent selective fetal reduction of a multiple pregnancy.


Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data.


There were no randomized controlled trials identified.


We found no available data from randomized trials to inform the risks and benefits of pregnancy reduction procedures for women with a multiple pregnancy. While randomized controlled trials will provide the most reliable evidence about the risks and benefits of fetal reduction procedures, reduction in the number of fetuses by selective termination may not be acceptable to women, particularly couples with a past history of infertility.

The acceptability of this option, and willingness to undergo randomization will depend on the couple's social background and beliefs, and consequently, recruitment to such a trial may prove exceptionally difficult.

Keyword Tags: