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Association Between the Birth of Twins and Parental Divorce

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Mothers of multiple births face higher rates of postpartum depression, yet evidence on the marital consequences of multiple births is limited. We examined the association between twin births and parental divorce.

METHODS:

We used the 1980 U.S. Census to identify a large sample of mothers with and without twin births. The goal was to estimate multivariate logistic models of the association between birth of twins and divorce adjusting for race, age at marriage and first birth, and college education. We examined whether the association was affected by maternal education, age and sex composition of twins, and family size.

RESULTS:

Twins at first birth were associated with greater parental divorce compared with singletons (odds ratio, 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.16; absolute risk 13.7% with twins compared with 12.7%; P=.02). The association was statistically greater among mothers not attending college (14.9% with twins compared with 13.3%; P=.01) compared with those with some college (10.4% with twins compared with 10.5%; P=.34); those with children older than 8 years (15.6% with twins compared with 13.5%; P<.01) compared with younger children (10.6% with twins compared with 10.8%; P=.42); and those with at least one twin girl (13.8% with twins compared with 12.6%; P=.03) compared with twin boys (12.1% with twins compared with 12.5%, P=.38). Mothers with four or more children had a larger association between birth of twins and divorce (15.4% for mothers with twins at fourth birth compared with 11.3% for all other mothers with four or more children; P<.01) compared with mothers with twins at first birth (13.7% for twins at first birth compared with 12.7%; P=.02).

CONCLUSION:

Health consequences of twin births for children and mothers are well known. Twin births may be associated with longer-term parental divorce. Specific groups, namely mothers not completing college and mothers who already have more children, may be at higher risk.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

II

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