How babies behave inside the uterus is a mystery. In twin pregnancies, is the space inside sufficient for two babies? They probably face a limitation of available space inside the womb. How this may affect their movements in the uterus is explained in a new scientific study.
By Toshiyuki Hata
In a study published in Journal of Perinatal Medicine, researchers used 4D ultrasound to compare fetal movements between singleton and twin fetuses at 12-13 and 14-19 weeks of gestation. A total of 58 singleton and 48 twin fetuses were included, and the frequencies of eight fetal movements were assessed using 15-min recordings. These movements were: body rotation, hand to face movement, general movement, arm movement, leg movement, mouthing, and head movements.
The results showed that at 12-13 weeks, single fetuses exhibited frequent arm and general movements, while twins solely exhibited a high frequency of general movements. At 14-19 weeks, the singleton fetuses moved their arms and legs frequently compared with only frequent leg movements in twins.
As a result, the singleton fetuses exhibited significantly frequent arm movements compared with twins at 12-13 weeks, while the frequencies of all movements were higher in singletons than in twins at 14-19 weeks.
These results suggest that the limitation of available space and crowding of the twins inside the uterus, especially with the advancement of pregnancy, have a marked impact on their movements compared with singleton babies even in the first half of pregnancy. However, more studies are needed to elucidate the impact of this on their development and maturation before and after birth
Twin pregnancy is associated with multiple risks, and various neurological abnormalities have been linked to twin pregnancies. Therefore, the study of a fetus’ behavior inside the uterus is essential and fundamental in understanding the mechanisms of development of these neurological abnormalities in twins.
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Mohamed Ahmed Mostafa AboEllail, Kenji Kanenishi, Nobuhiro Mori, Junko Noguchi, Genzo Marumo, Toshiyuki Hata: Ultrasound study of fetal movements in singleton and twin pregnancies at 12–19 weeks. 15.09.2017