UK sees 20% increase in multiple births over 10 years

Mothers are having 20% more multiple births than they were a decade ago, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Statistics have revealed that in 2002, the multiple birth rate was 15 per 1,000 women giving birth, compared with 12.5 in 1992. Women in their late thirties and forties were most likely to have a multiple birth, and women aged 35-39 had 21.9 labours with multiple births per 1,000 women giving birth in 2002.

The ONS also found that there were 596,122 live births in 2002 compared with 594,634 in 2001, an increase of 0.25%. The average age of women giving birth continued to increase to 29.3 years in 2002 from 29.2 in 2001, and the average age of women having their first baby increased to 27.3 years.

Fertility continues to increase for women in their thirties and early forties, while it is declining for women in their twenties, the ONS said.

Women aged 25-29 have the highest fertility rate at 91.6 births per 1,000 women in 2002. However, this rate is decreasing, while for women aged 30-34 it has increased to 89.9 births per 1,000 women.

The total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.65 children per woman of childbearing age, a slight increase on the 2001 figure of 1.64, which was the lowest ever recorded. The TFR varied across England and Wales from 1.75 in the West Midlands to 1.62 in the South West and North East of England.

And just over 40% of live births were outside of marriage in 2002, more than four times the proportion seen 25 years earlier. Nearly 90% of births to teenagers in 2002 were outside of marriage.


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