Surge in babies born to mothers aged in their 40s

The number of women having babies in their 40s has shot up over a decade, while the number of teenagers giving birth has halved.

The changing age profile of mothers is captured in the CSO’s Vital Statistics annual report 2015, which also shows a drop in the overall birth rate, down from 14.6 per 1,000 in 2014 to 14 per 1,000 in 2015.

In fact, the number of children born in Ireland in 2015, at 65,536, represents the lowest number of births since 2006 (65,425 births).

However, statistician Carol Anne Hennessy said the figure is still “6.8% higher than 10 years previously (2005) when there were 61,372 live births”.

The stats show births to women aged 40 and over jumped by 62.7% between 2005 and 2015, up from 2,566 to 4,175. The increase in births among older mums is against a backdrop of a growth in the use of assisted human reproduction technologies which provide options to women where fertility has declined with age.

This is likely also reflected in the number of pregnancies which resulted in multiple live births in 2015: 1,196 sets of twins, 31 sets of triplets and 1 set of quadruplets.

The CSO said: “Over the past 25 years, the twinning rate has increased significantly — from a low of 11.7 (per 1,000) in 1991, to a high of 18.7 in 2013 and down slightly to 18.6 in 2015.”

Births to teenagers declined 50.2% between 2005-2015, from 2,406 to 1.199.

Over one in three (36.5%) babies were born outside marriage in 2015 and more than one in five babies was born to non-Irish mothers.

The average age of all mothers has risen from age 31 to 32.5 between 2005-2015 and the age of first-time mums rose from 28.7 to 30.6 in the same period.

July 16 saw the highest number of babies born in one single day (251) in 2015, while the fewest number was on St Stephen’s day (97 births).

Heart disease and cancer emerged as the biggest causes of death.

In all, there were 30,127 deaths in Ireland in 2015, an increase of 875 on the 2014 figure. Just under 30% were attributed to “malignant neoplasms” (cancer) and 31.1% were attributed to diseases of the circulatory system. Deaths from diseases of the respiratory system accounted for 12.8% of all deaths. The leading causes of death varied widely by age group. Among young adults aged 15 to 44, external causes of injury and poisoning ranked first.

Among individuals aged 45 to 74, neoplasms was the leading cause, while for those aged 75 and older, it was diseases of the circulatory system.

Suicide accounted for 1.4% (425) of all deaths in 2015, 78.8% (335) of which were male.

The estimated usual residence population in April 2015 was 4.7m.


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