Cesarean Section for the Second Twin: A Population-Based Study of Occurrence and Outcome


Address correspondence to Lillian Skibsted, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Roskilde Hospital, Koegevej 7 – 13, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.



Although management of twin deliveries has been a topic of discussion for decades, a consensus on how to deliver twins is lacking. The objective of this study was to examine short-term neonatal outcome of the second twin delivered by cesarean section after vaginal delivery of the first-born twin (combined delivery) and to identify predictors of combined delivery.


This study was a 3-year, population-based, retrospective cohort investigation of 1,254 twin births in Denmark. The twin births were divided into three groups: vaginal deliveries, planned cesarean deliveries, and combined deliveries. Data were extracted from medical records, a fetal medicine software program (Astraia), and the National Birth Registry. Short-term poor neonatal outcome was measured as a 5-minute Apgar score ≤ 7, umbilical cord pH ≤ 7.10, and admission to neonatal intensive care unit for more than 3 days.


Vertex-nonvertex fetal presentations were more prevalent in combined deliveries than vaginal deliveries (OR 4.4, 2.5–7.8). Nonvertex second twins born by combined delivery had a higher risk of Apgar score ≤ 7 and umbilical cord pH ≤ 7.10 compared with vaginal delivery, unadjusted OR 6.2 (2.1–18), and unadjusted OR 3.9 (1.6–9.5). Prenatal ultrasound scans were evaluated in combined deliveries, of which 48 percent were vertex-vertex at the last ultrasound scan in pregnancy (mean gestational age 34 + 0) and 37 percent were vertex-vertex at birth.


Vertex-nonvertex presenting twins have an increased risk of combined delivery. Combined deliveries are associated with increased neonatal morbidity for the second twin. (BIRTH 40:1 March 2013)