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Half of births to mothers aged 30 or over

Almost half of all births in England and Wales are to mothers aged 30 and over.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 49% of births in 2012 were to mothers in this age group.

Some 383,189 of all live births in 2012 were within a marriage or civil partnership and 346,485 were outside.

Within marriage or a civil partnership, 148,403 births were to mothers aged 30 to 34, while 78,689 were to mothers aged 35 to 39 and 17,380 were to mothers aged 40 to 44. A further 1,240 births were to mothers aged 45 and over.

Outside marriage, 67,839 of births were to mothers aged 30 to 34, a total of 36,108 were to those aged 35 to 39, and 10,639 were to those aged 40 to 44, while 735 were to those aged 45 and over.

Most births in this category were to younger women, with 32,520 to those aged 20 and under, 102,829 to those aged 20 to 24 and 95,815 to those aged 25 to 29.

In 2012, nearly two-thirds (65%) of fathers were aged 30 and over, excluding births registered solely by the mother.

Overall in 2012, the average age of mothers in all categories was 29.8 years. The average age for first births was 28.1 years.

Some 84% of all babies were registered by parents who were married, in a civil partnership or living together.

The percentage of births to women aged 30 and over was down slightly in 2012 compared to 2011.

In 2012, 49% of all births were to women aged 30 and over, down from 51% the previous year.

ONS data released last week showed one in 10 mothers aged 40 and over gives birth to a premature baby.

Some 10.1% of babies born to mothers aged 40 or over were delivered before 37 weeks in England and Wales in 2011.

This is up slightly on the 9.5% figure for 2007 and compares to 6.7% of 25 to 29-year-old women giving birth prematurely in 2011.

The number of live births to mothers aged 40 and over has more than quadrupled over the last three decades from 6,519 in 1982 to 29,994 in 2012.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said of today’s data: “This demonstrates very starkly the changing demographics of childbirth.

“More older women are giving birth and this has an impact on maternity services.

“Older mothers tend to have more complications in their pregnancy and therefore often need additional care and attention from midwives and maternity services.

“This of course places additional pressure on time and resources.

“These figures feed into the wider pressures on maternity services.

“Other issues such as rising levels of obesity are also leading to births becoming more complex. In addition, numbers of births are at an all-time high.

“This means it is vital that the government continues to tackle the shortage of midwives which the RCM estimates to be almost 5,000 in England alone.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I gave birth at the age of 42 and 44 to my children and had a 6 hr and 3 hr labour. Also everyone I know who has given birth over the age of 40 have had straight forward births to healty babies also. This maybe in order to get pregnant at that age you have to be reasonably fit in the first place. I think young people are just as likely to have complications inc downs syndrome babies.

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