Chapter One Assessment Exercise
Use these paragraphs to answer the questions that follow:
Although multiple births are still relatively rare, in vitro fertilization has brought about a sharp increase in the number of “multiples”-twins, triplets, and quadruplets. In the past, couples who were not able to have children could either remain childless or adopt a child. However, some were reluctant to adopt because they were not comfortable with the idea of taking in a “stranger’s” child. Others had a very strong desire for their own biological offspring. With the development of in vitro fertilization, many of these couples are now able to have biological children of their own. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of twins born in the United States in creased by 74%. At the same time, the number of higher order multiples-triplets or more-increased by 500%
Multiple births can be very challenging for the mother-to-be. Imagine having several infants developing in a space designed for one. Although some of these women experience no problems, many have difficult pregnancies. Some mothers find themselves feeling extremely tired and short of breath. This is because the developing babies require a lot of iron and the mother begins to experience an iron deficiency. In order to carry the additional weight, her feet may grow as much as one shoe size. The shape of her body may also change permanently. As the babies develop, they push out the rib cage, expanding the size of her abdomen. To carry the additional weight, the thighs often become heavier. Despite a prescribed exercise program, these changes in body shape often remain after the pregnancy.
And it’s not just the mothers who are affected. Many multiple-birth children face physical and other types of challenges as well. Many are premature babies and will spend months in the hospital before they can go home. If the respiratory system is underdeveloped, the baby may have trouble breathing. If the nervous system is not fully developed, the child may be born with cerebral palsy. Later in life, learning difficulties some times emerge. The good news is that medical science is constantly uncovering ways to help these tiny infants survive and thrive.
After the initial shock of having several children at once wears off, the parents-to-be are soon struck by the financial realities. “Oh, no!” We can’t afford five children!” they cry. However, most of these families make out just fine. People donate clothing, diapers, cribs, and baby food. Community groups raise money so the family can add living space to their house. Grocery stores come up with special discounts. Over time, these families somehow manage to survive. And with all the extra love in the house, money becomes less and less of an issue as time goes on.