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Number of older mothers triples

Three times as many women aged 40 and above gave birth in 2009 compared with 1989, according to the latest government figures.

The Office for National Statistics published the numbers, which show there were 26,976 live births to women of 40 and over in 2009, compared with 9,336 - 20 years earlier. The amount was also nearly double that of 1999, when there were 14,252.

And the number of births to women aged 35 to 39 in England and Wales was 41 per cent higher in 2009 than in 1999, with a total of 114,288.

However, the overall number of births in 2009 was 0.3 per cent lower than in 2008, falling for the first time since 2001. This is because fewer women under 35 gave birth.

There was a 2.3 per cent drop in the number of under 20s having babies, a 1.6 per cent drop for women aged 20 to 24, and a 1.4 per cent drop for those aged 25 to 29. In the 30 to 34 category there was a 0.4 per cent decline.

The figures highlight the trend for women to become mothers at a later stage in life. The average age went from 28.4 in 1999 to 29.4 in 2009.

However, while birth figures for women in the UK fell, the number of babies born to women from outside the UK went up by 0.6 per cent in 2009. This figure has been rising steadily since 1990.

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