Women carrying twins are being advised to give birth at 37 weeks to avoid serious complications, following research conducted by an Australian university.
Results of the biggest study of its kind in the world found babies born to women in the early birth group (37 weeks) were less likely to be small for their gestational age compared with babies born to women at 38 weeks or longer.
The study compared 235 women with twin pregnancies in Australia, New Zealand and Italy, and was published Wednesday in the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
Study author Professor Jodie Dodd, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute and the Women's & Children's Hospital, said there was a great deal of uncertainty around the optimal time for twins' birth in clinical practice.
"We found that at 37 weeks, elective birth is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of serious morbidity for infants, without increasing complications related to immaturity or induction of labor," she said.
"We hope this study will help clinicians to make recommendations to women with healthy twin pregnancies that lead to less complications at birth, and therefore lead to happier, healthier lives for their babies."
Twins are at greater risk of problems during pregnancy, particularly from a slowing of the rate of growth in one or both twins.
A normal full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks.