More babies born to over 40s than under 20s

family law

More babies are born to women over the age of 40 than to women under 20.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 697,852 babies born in England and Wales in 2015. Out of every 1,000 of these, just over 15 births were to women older than 40. By contrast, teenagers were responsible for just 14.5 births per 1,000 in that time.

These numbers mark the first time older women have had a higher birth rate than their younger peers in almost 70 years. The last time this occurred was in 1947, in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The average age for having a child has been steadily increasing since 1975, and is now just over 30 years old. Meanwhile, teenage pregnancies have fallen rapidly in recent years. In 1990, teenage mothers accounted for 33 births per 1,000, which is more than double the 2015 rate.

Liz McLaren, head of vital statistics outputs at the ONS noted that over the last 40 years, there has been a “trend for women to have babies at older ages”. The percentage of children whose mother was 35 and over when they gave birth has “increased considerably” in that time, she added.

Reasons for these trends could include an increased number of women in higher education, advances in fertility treatment and changing attitudes to working women, the ONS suggested.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service claimed these trends were not going to go away. They said there were “many understandable reasons why women today are waiting longer to start or expand their families than those in previous decades”.

Babies born to foreign mothers also rose slightly in 2015, the ONS figures showed. These now make up 27.5 per cent of all births in England and Wales.

Photo by Julija Rauluševičiūtė via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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