Irish women waiting later in life to have babies


IRISH WOMEN are waiting later in life to have their babies, new figures confirm in a report published by the Economic and Social Research Institute yesterday.

The average age of first-time mothers in Ireland is 29.4, compared with 27.6 in 2001, the Perinatal Statistics Report 2010 shows.

The average age of women giving birth was 31.5 years in 2010, up from 30.3 years in 2001. The average age of single mothers in Ireland is 28, compared with 25 almost a decade ago.

Of all first deliveries, 33 per cent were to women aged 30-34 in 2010, compared with 27 per cent in this age group in 2001. Overall, the age profile of women giving birth is increasing, with almost 28 per cent aged 35 years or older, up from 22 per cent in 2001.

The ESRI report, representing babies born in Ireland in 2010, found that more than 26 per cent of women delivered by Caesarean section, compared with 21 per cent in 2001.

There has been a significant increase in the number of births to mothers born outside Ireland. Almost 25 per cent of births in 2010 were to mothers born outside Ireland, compared with 16 per cent in 2004.

Almost 33 per cent of children born in 2010 were born to single mothers.

Some 75,600 births were notified to the national perinatal reporting system in 2010, compared with 58,261 births almost a decade earlier.

The number of foetal and newborn deaths has declined in the last decade. The mortality rate was 6.8 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths in 2010, compared with 8.6 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths in 2001. The lowest mortality rate of 5.7 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths was for babies born to mothers aged 30 to 34 years.

The mortality rate was highest for babies born to mothers aged between 40 and 44 years.

The mortality rate in 2010 was 6.5 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths for single births and just over 17 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths for multiple births.

Some 1,240 sets of twins and 24 sets of triplets were born that year.

The twinning rate for 2010 was 16.7 per 1,000 maternity cases.

Some 65 per cent of multiple births were discharged from hospital within five days of birth.

Irish women are having more babies than their European counterparts.

Ireland has the highest birth rate of any of the 27 EU countries with 16.8 per 1,000 population. The Irish birth rate in 2001 was 15.1 per 1,000 population.

The UK has the second-highest EU birth rate at 13.0 per 1,000 population.

The average birth weight for live births in 2010 was 7.64lb, similar to the average weight of 7.66lb in 2001. In the last decade, newborn babies weighing less than 5.5lb represented 5 per cent of all births.

Almost 46 per cent of babies are breast-fed when discharged from hospital.

Sheelagh Bonham of the ESRI said this number is “still quite low”. “This is up from 39 per cent in 2001. While an increase is always welcome, it’s still very small,” she said.

Irish women were found to be the most fertile among the 23 EU countries for which data on fertility rates was available in 2010.

With a total period fertility rate of 2.09, Ireland is now close to the level required (2.10) for the long-term replacement of the population in the absence of net inward migration in the coming years.

There were 177 home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives in 2010, compared with 245 in 2001.

Of all women who gave birth in 2010, 42 per cent were first-time mothers.

The report was produced by the ESRI’s health research and information division.

Perinatal Report By The Numbers


Ireland’s birth rate, per 1,000 population – the highest in the EU


of women who gave birth in 2010 delivered by Caesarean section.


of babies born in 2010 to single mothers.


The lowest foetal and newborn mortality rate is among babies born to mothers in this age bracket.


of births in 2010 were to mothers born outside Ireland.


of babies are breast-fed.


sets of twins born in 2010.


sets of triplets born in 2010.