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Fetal laser surgery saves twins

At week 20, one family was faced with startling information about the twins that the mother was carrying. The twins suffered from what is known as 'Twin-to-twin transfusion Syndrome.' This is a pregnancy complication that creates a high risk of losing both babies if action is not taken. Traditionally parents had to make a terrible choice of losing one of the fetuses in order to save the other. But a new surgery provides hope for families like this one.

The laser surgery seals blood vessels along the surface of the placenta to stop the transfer of blood between the babies. The surgery was successful for this family and the twins began developing normally after the procedure. The twins were born at 32 weeks and both were healthy.

In Twin-to-twin Syndrome the transfer of blood goes consistently from one baby to the other. Because of this recipient has too much amniotic fluid while the other has a dangerously low amount. To equalize this, the surgery also perforates the membrane between the infants so that the fluid can equalize.

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of identical twin pregnancies, according to a recent news article. If left untreated there mortality rate for at least one infant is nearly 80 percent.

Increasingly prenatal surgeries and therapies like this are moving from speculative and experimental to common best practices for certain pregnancy complications. Some of these procedures certainly feel like miracles to the families to which they give hope of having a healthy newborn.

Source: NBC DFW News "Fetal Surgery Corrects Twin-Twin Syndrome" Meredith Land, May 14, 2011

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