Ireland’s baby boom could be slowing down after a sharp decrease in births in the third quarter of last year was recorded.
CSO figures show that the 17,985 births registered between July and September of 2012 represented a 6.4% fall on the same period in 2011.
The figures also indicate women are continuing to put off having children until later in life.
Although a decrease in any single quarter is not enough to signal any long- term trend, the total number of births last year is likely to fall below 73,000 following a total of 74,650 in 2011.
The number of births over the past decade peaked in 2010 when 74,976 were registered but there has been a gradual decline since. The 6.3% drop recorded in the third quarter of 2012 is the largest annual decrease in many years.
The figures show the number of births registered outside marriage or civil partnership accounted for 35% of all births.
However, one-fifth of all births were to cohabiting but unmarried parents.
The highest percentage of births outside marriage and civil partnership occurred in Limerick City at 56%, with the lowest level recorded in Co Galway at 22%.
Almost two-fifths of all births were to first-time mothers whose average age was 30 years.
The average age of all mothers was 32 years — 0.3 years more than the corresponding quarter in 2011 — and the highest average age to be recorded in the past decade.
Meanwhile 6,825 deaths were registered in the third quarter of 2012 — a reduction of 1.2% on the corresponding period in 2011.
They included 136 deaths categorised as deaths by suicide including two cases involving children aged 14 years or under.
There were 79 infant deaths recorded over the same period.
A total of 7,765 marriages were recorded — a slight increase on 2011 figures.
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