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Dublin: 21°C Thursday 18 August 2022

Number of births continues to decrease as average age of mothers rises

Teenage births have more than halved in a decade and the number of twins being born has increased significantly.

Life_Events_-_1875x1095_@300_dpi_for_press Source: CSO

THE NUMBER OF births in Ireland continues to decrease as the average age of mothers continues to rise.

The number of births has fallen by 15.1% since 2010 and 2.6% since 2015. There were 63,841 live births in Ireland in 2016, with 32,709 males and 31,132 females.

The 2016 total is 2.4% lower than in 2006, when there were 65,425 live births.

The figures are included in the Central Statistics Office’s Vital Statistics Annual Report 2016, which was released yesterday.

The average age of mothers for births that occurred in 2016 was 32.7 years. Mothers under 30 accounted for 27.7% of births in 2016, compared with 10 years previously (2006), when mothers under 30 accounted for 39.5% of births.

The number of births to teenage mothers has more than halved in a decade. There were 1,101 births to mothers under 20 years in 2016, down from 2,335 in 2006, a decrease of 52.8%.

Over the past 25 years, the twinning rate has increased significantly, from a low of 11.7 in 1991 to a high of 19.0 in 2016. In 2016, the number of multiple live births was 1,215, consisting of 1,189 sets of twins, 24 sets of triplets and two sets of quadruplets.

Over one-third (36.6%) of all births were outside of marriage/civil partnership in 2016. The comparable figure, 30 years earlier, in 1986 was 9.6%.


There were 30,667 deaths in Ireland in 2016, an increase of 540 on the 2015 figure. Diseases of the circulatory system accounted for 9,237 or 30.1% of deaths and 9,171 or 29.9% of deaths were attributed to malignant neoplasms, while deaths from diseases of the respiratory system numbered 3,935 or 12.8% of all deaths.

Over 1.4% (437) of all deaths were due to suicide in 2016, 80.1% (350) of which were male.

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There were 194 deaths of infants aged less than one year in 2016 giving an infant mortality rate of three deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 3.4 in 2015. Over a third (37.6%) of all infant deaths occurred within the first day of birth, while 59.8% occurred within the first week.

Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities accounted for 39.7% of infant deaths while certain conditions originating in the perinatal period accounted for 44.8% of infant deaths in 2016.

Neonatal deaths are deaths of infants at ages under four weeks. There were 147 neonatal deaths registered in 2016, a neonatal mortality rate of 2.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The natural increase (births minus deaths) in 2016 was 33,174, a decrease of 6.3% on the 2015 figure. The natural increase 10 years previously in 2006 was 36,937, over 11.3% more than the 2016 figure.

Need help? Support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

A list of HSE and HSE-funded services can be found here

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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