26/05/2010

Birthrates 'Treble' For Older Mothers

Figures have shown that the number of births to older mothers has trebled in the past 20 years.

In 2009, figures for England and Wales show that 26,976 babies were born to women aged 40 and over, compared to 9,336 in 1989 and 14,252 in 1999.

Among those aged 35 to 39 there were 114,288 births in 2009, a rise of 41% on the 81,281 in 1999.

Published by the Office for National Statistics, the data showed a 3% drop in the number of births.

The typical age for a first-time mother rose to 29.4 in 2009, compared with 29.3 in 2008 and 28.4 in 1999.

In 2008, the birth rate for women under 35 had fallen. There was a 2.3% drop among women under 20, from 26 births per 1,000 women in 2008 to 25.4 in 2009.

Rates for women aged 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 fell by 1.6% and 1.4% respectively, while for women aged 30 to 34 there was a 0.4% decline.

However rates for women aged 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 continued to rise in 2009, by 1.2% and 2.4% respectively.

On average, woman had 1.95 children each in 2009, down from 1.97 children the previous year.

The study also showed that the proportion of births to mothers born outside the UK continued to rise, from 24.1% in 2008 to 24.7% in 2009.

Deputy General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, Louise Silverton, commented that the decline in the birth rate was "a tiny morsel of good news".

She continued: "The birth rate has gone up by 19% since 2001 yet the number of midwives has risen by only 11% over the same period.

"The figures also mask the fact that an increasing number of births are becoming more complicated, requiring more of midwives' time.

"This very small decrease in the birth rate should not be used as an excuse to stop or reduce the promised rise in the number of midwives."

(BMcN/BMcC)

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