Births in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

In 2017, there were over 755 thousand live births in the United Kingdom. The birth rate in the UK has generally decreased since 1960, as is the case in most developed nations, so that in 2016 it was 11.8 per 1,000 population. This has resulted in the average children per mother being 1.8 in 2016. Since 1990 the multiple birth rate in England and Wales has increased from 11.6 per 1,000 pregnancies to a rate of 15.8, meaning that the number of twins, triplets or more has been increasing.

In England and Wales the most common age for a mother giving birth was between 30 and 34 in 2017. The last 30 years has seen a decrease in women having a child under the age of 24 and an increase in women over the age of 35 doing so. Since 2013, the number of women over the age of 40 having children has surpassed the number of teenage mothers. The teenage birth rate in Northern Ireland has decreased in recent years also, dropping from 15.52 per 1,000 women in the period 2008-2010 to 9.93 per 1,000 during 2014-2016. The rate of teenage childbirths in England was 6 times higher in the most deprived decile compared to the least deprived.

The rate of spontaneous labors in England has decreased from almost 69 percent in 2005/06 to 52 percent in 2017/18, while in the same period the number of caesarean sections has gone up, from 10.7 percent to 16.2 percent. In 2017/18 spontaneous deliveries in Scotland accounted for 55 percent of births at NHS hospitals.

The share of women smoking during pregnancy has been dropping in England, amounting to 10.8 percent of pregnant women in 2017/18. The age group that has the highest prevalence of smoking during pregnancy is those aged under 20, with over 31 percent of pregnant women smoking in the period 2017/18. The pattern is similar in Scotland, with the share falling from 26.6 percent in 2000 to 14.4 percent in 2018. As in England though,the highest proportion of smokers is found in those aged under 20, with approximately 34 percent doing so.

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