Ultrasound study of fetal movements in singleton and twin pregnancies at 12-19 weeks

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate fetal behavioral differences between singleton and twin fetuses before 20 weeks of gestation using four-dimensional (4D) ultrasound.

Methods

4D ultrasound was used to examine fetal movements in 58 singleton and 48 twin normal fetuses at 12-19 weeks. The frequencies of eight fetal movements were assessed through 15-min recordings. The fetuses were divided into two gestational age groups (12-13 and 14-19 weeks) to evaluate the changes with advancing gestation in twin versus singleton fetuses.

Results

Arm and general movements were the most frequent movements in singleton fetuses, whereas only general movement was significantly more frequent than the other seven fetal movements in twin fetuses at 12-13 weeks. At 14-19 weeks, frequencies of arm and leg movements were significantly higher than those of the other six movements in singleton fetuses, while only arm movement was significantly more frequent than the other fetal movements in twin fetuses. Comparisons of fetal movements between singleton and twin fetuses revealed that only arm movement showed a significant difference at 12-13 weeks, while the frequencies of all movements in singleton fetuses were significantly higher than those in twin fetuses at 14-19 weeks.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that the limitation of available space and crowding of twin fetuses with advancing gestation may have a marked impact on twin fetal movements compared with singleton fetuses, even in the first half of pregnancy. Further studies are needed to assess whether decreased fetal movements in twin pregnancy can affect fetal and neonatal development and maturation before and after birth.

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