More than 170 sets of triplets and three quads were born to women in the UK last year amid a rise in the number of multiple births, official figures have revealed.

In 2011, 11,330 women in England and Wales gave birth to more than one baby, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, with 172 having triplets and three quads or more. In the decade to 2011, the “multiple maternity rate” increased by 8.8 per cent, a rise attributed to an increase in IVF treatment.

Of every 1,000 women who gave birth in 2011, 16.1 women had more than one baby – up from 15.7 in 2010, the ONS said.

In 1976 the rate stood at 9.6 women out of every 1,000. The Twins and Multiple Births Association said the figures should be a “wake-up call” to maternity units.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The increase in the number of multiple maternities, especially among older women, places greater demands on maternity services, and we should be ensuring that there are enough midwives so that these women get the best possible care.”