Intrauterine growth discordance across gestation and birthweight discordance in dichorionic twins.
BACKGROUND: Although intertwin size difference is an important measure of fetal growth, the appropriate cut point to define discordance is unclear. Few studies have assessed intertwin differences in estimated fetal weight longitudinally or in relation to size differences at birth.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the study were to estimate the magnitude of percentage differences in estimated fetal weight across gestation in dichorionic twins in relation to a fixed discordance cut point and compare classification of aberrant fetal growth by different measures (estimated fetal weight differences, birthweight discordance, small for gestational age).
STUDY DESIGN: Women aged 18-45 years from 8 US centers with dichorionic twin pregnancies at 8 weeks 0 days to 13 weeks 6 days gestation planning to deliver in participating hospitals were recruited into the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fetal Growth Studies-Dichorionic Twins study and followed through delivery (n = 140; 2012-2013). Ultrasounds were conducted at 6 targeted study visits to obtain fetal biometrics and calculate estimated fetal weight. Percent estimated fetal weight and birthweight differences were calculated: ([weight - weight]/weight)*100; discordance was defined as ≥18% for illustration. Birth sizes for gestational age (both, 1, or neither small for gestational age) were determined; twins were categorized into combined birthweight plus small for gestational age groups: birthweight discordance ≥18% (yes, no) with both, 1, or neither small for gestational age. Linear mixed-models estimated percentiles of estimated fetal weight percent differences across gestation and compared estimated fetal weight differences between combined birthweight discordance and small for gestational age groups. A Fisher exact test compared birthweight discordance and small for gestational age classifications.
RESULTS: Median estimated fetal weight percentage difference increased across gestation (5.9% at 15.0, 8.4% at 38.0 weeks), with greater disparities at higher percentiles (eg, 90th percentile: 15.6% at 15.0, 26.3% at 38.0 weeks). As gestation advanced, an increasing percentage of pregnancies were classified as discordant using a fixed cut point: 10% at 27.0, 15% at 34.0, and 20% at 38.0 weeks. Birthweight discordance and small for gestational age classifications differed (P = .002); for birthweight discordance ≥18% vs <18%: 44% vs 71% had neither small for gestational age; 56% vs 18% had 1 small for gestational age; no cases (0%) vs 11% had both small for gestational age, respectively. Estimated fetal weight percent difference varied across gestation by birthweight discordance plus small for gestational age classification (P = .040). Estimated fetal weight percentage difference increased with birthweight discordance ≥18% (neither small for gestational age: 0.46%/week [95% confidence interval, 0.08-0.84]; 1 small for gestational age: 0.57%/week [95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.90]) but less so without birthweight discordance (neither small for gestational age: 0.17%/week [95% confidence interval, 0.06-0.28]; 1 small for gestational age: 0.03%/week [95% confidence interval, -0.17 to 0.24]); both small for gestational age: 0.10%/week [95% confidence interval, -0.15 to 0.36]).
CONCLUSION: The percentage of dichorionic pregnancies exceeding a fixed discordance cut point increased over gestation. A fixed cut point for defining twin discordance would identify an increasing percentage of twins as discordant as gestation advances. Small for gestational age and percentage weight differences assess distinct aspects of dichorionic twin growth. A percentile cut point may be more clinically useful for defining discordance, although further study is required to assess whether any specific percentile cut point correlates to adverse outcomes.