Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome

Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a rare condition. It affects only 1 out of 10 twins.

It only affects identical twins that are monochorionic, diamniotic or one-third of all identical twins.

Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) occurs in 6% of identical twin pregnancies: about 4000 cases per year in the USA.

In this type of pregnancy there is one placenta for both babies and it contains blood vessel connections between the babies. When the blood flow through those connections becomes unbalanced, the twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is caused.

As a result one of the twins, usually the smallest, doesn’t get enough blood while the other one gets way too much.

Both babies will start to compensate for this.

The baby which doesn’t get enough blood will start to produce less and less urine; the bladder can shrink to tiny proportions.

The baby which gets too much blood will start to produce more urine; its bladder will enlarge.

The condition is not caused by either parent: it’s not genetic nor inherited. It’s not something the father or mother has or hasn’t done.

If twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) isn’t treated there’s an 80-90% chance one of the twins will die. If that happens the blood vessel connection between the two can put the surviving baby at risk; in one-third of the cases severe brain damage occurs.
In those cases where one of the babies dies, both fetuses have be carried to full term in order to give the survivor a chance.

The less advanced twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is, the better or “easier” it is to treat. There are 5 distinct types of treatments depending on the stage and type of twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). They range from 20% to 85% survival rates.

Additional Reading

The Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Foundation (USA) is the place to get immediate information, help and support. It’s founded by a mommy who kept her promise. If you or someone you love is dealing with TTTS or has suffered a loss through it, I encourage you to visit this web site and establish contact. These people will understand you.

ABC’s John McKenzie has done an excellent reportage: Rare Blood Disorder Haunts Twins in Womb: Doctors Work Inside Mother’s Womb to Save Twins.

The Houston Chronicle produced the video To Save A Twin.

More and other resources are available throughout North America and in other parts of the world. Please refer to the web for more information.

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