Ireland has seen its biggest mini baby boom since 1980, it emerged today.
Official figures showed more than 210 babies were born every day in the first three months of the year – 10% more than in the same period last year.
The increase – from 17,473 to 19,146 – was the biggest quarterly rise in 28 years.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also revealed the gap between births and deaths was at its widest since records began almost 60 years ago.
Officials said the natural increase (birth minus deaths) of 23,714 between September 2007 and March was the highest since 1949.
Elsewhere, the Vital Statistics for quarter one revealed 7,531 people died in the first three months of 2008 – including 63 infants and 42 newborns, aged under four weeks.
Heart disease, cancer and diseases of the respiratory system accounted for more than 5,900 deaths.
Statistics also registered that 3,241 couples got married, however more than a third of babies were born outside marriage.
The highest percentage of unmarried parents were recorded in Waterford city (53%) and the lowest number in Galway county (24%).
The average age for the country’s 8,000 first-time mothers was 28.8 years and for all new mothers was 31.1 years, the same as the previous year.