A twin pregnancy carries more medical risks than a singleton gestation, and that risk goes up with each additional baby. Women who conceived triplets, whether naturally or with the help of fertility treatment, must face the fact that a triplet pregnancy is risky. Half of all triplet pregnancies will result in the life-threatening complication preeclampsia, and intra-uterine growth restriction, low birth weight babies, placental abruption, gestational diabetes and other complications are all risky conditions that are much more likely to strike triplet pregnancies.
In some cases, families decide that they are not willing to deal with those risks. They come to the conclusion, either by themselves or at the recommendation of their doctor, that selective reduction for triplets is the chosen solution for them. Selective reduction is a term that dawned with the rise of fertility treatments such as IVF. It refers to the practice of aborting one fetus or several fetuses, usually for medical reasons.
Selective reduction is a sensitive topic. Those who are considering reducing a triplet pregnancy to twins or a singleton certainly have to face a very hard decision. Medically speaking, the optimal time to carry out a selective reduction is around 12 weeks into a pregnancy. Leading fertility doctors point out that, at that point in a pregnancy, enough time will have passed to note whether all fetuses are viable. Prenatal testing can also be carried out to determine which fetuses are healthy.
Selective reduction is an extremely personal decision, which nobody takes lightly. We'd advise anyone who finds themselves considering this step to go for counseling before making the decision, and also to discuss the risks of the procedure vs the risks of carrying a triplet pregnancy to term (or as far as possible!) with their healthcare team first. Only you can make this tough decision, and we wish you the strength and wisdom you need to choose the right choice for you, personally.