• birth order;
  • presentation;
  • twins;
  • ultrasound



It is often assumed by obstetricians, neonatologists and parents that the prenatal nomenclature used to identify twins on ultrasound is consistent with twin labeling after their birth. The aim of this study was to use a large regional database of twin ultrasound scans to validate the effectiveness of a scan before delivery in predicting twin birth-order.


A large regional database of twin ultrasound scans with data from nine hospitals over a 10-year period was used to identify all ultrasound examinations carried out just before birth. The discordance in twin order between the last scan and birth was evaluated by observing discrepancies in fetal sex and weight.


In total, 2103 twin pregnancies with ultrasound estimated fetal weights (EFWs) and birth weights were assessed. Of these, fetal sex was recorded in 149 different-sex pregnancies. Discrepancy between antenatal labeling and the anticipated birth order was noted in 37.6% (56/149) of cases when judged by sex discordance and in 36% (757/2103) of cases when judged by weight discordance. Multiple logistic regression analyses demonstrated that weight discordance, but not chorionicity, scan-to-delivery interval, gestation at scan or gestation at delivery, significantly influenced the change in birth order (P < 0.001).


Antenatal ultrasound labeling does not predict twin birth-order in a significant proportion of twin deliveries. This finding should be borne in mind not only by parents, but also by physicians when delivering twins discordant for anomalies that are not evident on external examination. Copyright © 2012 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.