Number of newborn deaths down 25% in last 10 years

The number of newborn babies who have died has dropped by a quarter over the last 10 years, according to an ESRI report.

A total of 74,377 births were registered last year, with Ireland still having the highest rate across Europe with 16.2 births per 1,000 people.

There were 1,319 sets of twins last year, 28 sets of triplets and one set of quadruplets.

But figures also revealed 153 babies died within their first week of life.

The early neonatal mortality rate is estimated at 2.1 per 1,000 live births, down 25% over the decade. There were less than 300 stillbirths, a 29% drop since 2002.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found the overall perinatal mortality rate, which includes live and still births between 22 weeks of gestation to the first week of life, fell by 27% in 10 years.

“The perinatal mortality rate for Ireland ranked 10th lowest out of the 16 EU27 countries for which 2011 data were available,” the think-tank said.

It examined the pregnancy outcomes and the social and biological characteristics of all mothers giving birth last year: 6% of babies were premature and delivered at less than 37 weeks gestation, while 5% had a low birthweight and 3% a high birthweight.

The number of births last year also dropped slightly and almost 29% of birth mothers were at least 35 years old. The average age rose to 31.7 years, with just 2% aged 19 years or less.

Almost a third were single mothers, nearly a quarter were not Irish and four out of 10 were having their first child.

There were also 168 home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives last year, a huge drop from 288 in 2002.

Of those who gave birth in hospitals, the average length of stay was 3.3 days and nearly half of all babies (47%) were exclusively breastfed.

“When examined by nationality, for babies born to Irish mothers the exclusive breastfeeding rate is estimated at 40% compared with over 75% for babies born to mothers from Europe and Australia,” the ESRI said.

Elsewhere, Ireland’s vital statistics for the second quarter of this year show there were 17,958 births, 7,080 deaths and 5,421 marriages registered.

There was also 120 civil partnerships, with four births registered within them, up from just four civil partnerships last year.

The Central Statistics Office said the natural increase in population (births minus deaths) from April to June was 10,878.

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