Teenage births at lowest number since the 1940s

pregnancyOfficial statistics have shown that the number of teenagers giving birth has declined to reach its lowest level in nearly 70 years.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 25,977 women under the age of 20 gave birth in England and Wales, a figure that represents the lowest number since 1946 when 24,816 children were born.

In total, 695,233 births were recorded during 2014, a decrease of the 3,279 births in 2013. Interestingly, nearly half of the babies were born to unmarried mothers – this is the highest amount since records began. Incidentally, for the same time period, the number of deaths (501,424) had dropped 5,366 from 2013.

The decline in the number of teens giving birth could be attributed to better contraception advice for young women and improved access to abortion services, says a leading pregnancy charity.

The ONS birth stats have also shown:

  • A small increase in the proportion of births to mothers born outside the UK – from 26.5% in 2013 to 27% in 2014.
  • The average age women gave birth was 30.2 years old last year – the highest age since records first began in 1938.
  • The number of babies born to mothers aged 40 and above (29,010) was down slightly (1%) on the recent high of 2011.
  • Peterborough had the highest fertility rate across both England and Wales.

The ONS report states: “In most developed countries women have been increasingly delaying childbearing to later in life, which has resulted in increases in the mean age at first birth and rising fertility rates among older women.

“Although fertility rates for women aged 40 and above have generally been rising fast, fertility among women in their 40s is still considerably lower than for women in their 30s. Women aged 30 to 34 currently have the highest fertility of any age group.”

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, described the drop in teenage pregnancies as “noteworthy”.

“This is due in part to the huge improvements we’ve seen in contraception advice and services for younger women, with straightforward access to abortion services when their chosen method lets them down,” she said, adding that the data proves that women over the age of 35 still have a fairly good chance of being able to conceive.

Meanwhile, Louise Silverton, the director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, noted how the increase in the age of mothers in addition to “climbing levels of obesity” demonstrated a requirement for funding for new midwives in the NHS.

The key statistics for births and deaths were:

Most live births per woman

1. Peterborough: 2.34

2. Harlow: 2.31

3. Forest Heath: 2.31

4. Barking & Dagenham 2.28

5. Pendle 2.26

Least live births per woman

1. City of London: 0.96

2. Westminster: 1.20

3. Camden: 1.24

4. Islington: 1.29

5: Kensington & Chelsea: 1.31

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