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Ireland has highest birth rate in the EU

The latest ESRI data also shows an increase in the age of women giving birth as well as an increase in the amount of births by caesarean section.

Image: Katie Collins/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THERE ARE MORE babies born in head of capita per year in Ireland than in any other country in the European Union.

That’s one of the main findings of the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) Perinatal Statistics Report 2009, which was released this morning.

The report shows that there were 76,021 births notified to the National Perinatal Reporting System (NPRS) in 2009, with Ireland again reporting the highest birth rate in the EU.

In 2000, the birth rate was 14.4 per 1,000 people – in 2009, that rose to 17 births per 1,000 people. There are currently enough children born in Ireland to ensure the “long-term replacement” of the country’s population.

In total, 1,186 sets of twins, 13 sets of triplets and one set of quadruplets were born in Ireland in 2009.

The perinatal mortality rate is 6.9 per 1,000 births. Professor Michael Turner, Director of the HSE Obstetrics and Gynaecology programme in the Directorate of Strategy and Clinical Programmes, said that this decline “is a tribute to all the staff” working in maternity hospitals.

He added:

Ireland has the highest fertility rate in the EU and this report shows an increase in the average age of mothers and the proportion of first-time mothers. A continuing increase in the caesarean section rate, together with an increase in the number of multiple births, is indicative of increasing complexity. Serious challenges will therefore arise as we aim to ensure a successful outcome of pregnancy for both the mother and her offspring in the face of the decreasing healthcare budget.

More women are breastfeeding their children, with 45 per cent of women reporting to be exclusively breastfeeding when leaving hospital with their child, compared to 38 per cent reporting this in 2000.

Caesareans have increased by 5 per cent, with 26 per cent of women delivering by caesarean section in 2009 compared to 21 per cent in 2000.

Meanwhile, the amount of home births has decreased from 216 in 2000 to 148 in 2009.

Today’s Irish Examiner reports on its front page that a rise in obesity is leading to more complex births, according to the HSE.

The report also shows an increase in maternal age, with the average age of women giving birth 31.3 years in 2009 compared to 30.2 years in 2000.

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More than 27 per cent of women giving birth were aged 35 or older, up 22 per cent since the last survey.

There has been a decrease in the amount of young mothers, with 3 per cent of women giving birth aged 19 or under, compared to almost 6 per cent nine years ago.

Almost one third of births (32 per cent) are to single mothers, whose average age was 27.5.

Nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of births in 2009 were to mothers themselves born outside of Ireland.

Read more: More than a third of women experience crisis pregnancy>

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