Parents of twins conceived either spontaneously or with assisted reproductive technology (ART) are more likely to report mental health symptoms after delivery and one year later, than parents of single babies, according to a new study.
However, the mothers of ART twins had fewer symptoms of depression before the birth than did mothers of twins conceived spontaneously.
"This may be due to better counselling and preparation of infertile couples for twins. The good mental health during pregnancy may also reflect the couples' satisfaction with successful treatment and fulfilment of hopes for parenthood," Dr Leila Unkila Kallio, who is a senior consultant in gynaecology and obstetrics at Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki (Finland), said.
After birth, fathers of twins in both groups showed more depression, anxiety, social dysfunction and sleeping problems than did fathers of singletons.
Researchers studied ART parents of 91 twins and 367 singletons and control parents of 20 twins and 379 singletons (conceived spontaneously) at three time points: in the second trimester of pregnancy, when the children were two months old and when they were one year old.
Depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleeping difficulties and social dysfunction were measured using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ36).
During pregnancy, they found that ART mothers of twins had lower mean averages of depressive symptoms than the control mothers of twins but similar levels to the ART and control mothers of singletons.
Fathers in all groups had similar mental health during the pregnancies.
After delivery and at one year, mothers of twins in both the ART and control group had more symptoms of depression and anxiety than did the mothers of singletons in both groups.
ART fathers of two-month old twins had higher mean averages of depressive symptoms than ART fathers of singletons but their scores were comparable to those of control fathers.
"Furthermore, fathers of two-month old twins in both ART and control groups reported significantly more impaired social dysfunction than fathers of singletons," said Dr Unkila Kallio.
At one year, the ART and control fathers of twins also had higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and sleeping difficulties than did the fathers of singletons.
The study has been presented at the 24th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona.