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bpas comment on ONS report Births in England and Wales, 2013

Average age of motherhood reaches 30 for first time

ONS report, Births in England and Wales, 2013, indicates continued trend towards older motherhood.

The statistics released today show that:

  • The average age of motherhood has continued to increase reaching 30 years for the first time in 2013. This is an increase from 29.8 in 2012.
  • Women aged 30-34 currently have the highest fertility of any age group.
  • The total fertility rate has decreased from 1.94 children in 2012 to 1.85 children per woman in 2013. The number of live births has decreased by 4.3% since 2012 – from 729,674 births in 2012 to 698,512 live births in 2013.
  • In 2013, fertility decreased in all age groups. The greatest declines were among younger women, with fertility rates decreasing in women aged under 20 and 20-24 by 13% and 8.9% respectively.
  • The smallest decreases in fertility were for women aged 35-39 and 40 and over (decreases of 1.3% and 0.7% respectively).
  • Despite these small declines in 2013, the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over has nearly trebled since 1991 (a rise of 134%) while for women aged 35-39 fertility has increased by 84% over this period.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:

“Overall the fertility rate has decreased, with the most significant declines seen in younger women. The average age of mothers in this country has hit 30 for the first time as many women are deciding to start their families later in life. UK mothers are now on average older than women elsewhere in the world when they have their first baby. There may be many reasons for this, including the time it takes to achieve educational and professional development, as well as financial security – and it may also be a reflection of how seriously couples take the responsibility of having children in the 21st century.

“We need to support women’s choices to have children at the age that is right for them. We certainly need policies in place that enable women to better combine family and working life, and in particular ensure that younger mothers don’t suffer setbacks.  While pregnancy and birth in older women may present slightly different challenges for healthcare professionals, the answer is not to cajole women into having babies before they are ready but to ensure our family planning and maternity services are set up to cater for the changing needs and choices of women today.”


For more information, please contact the bpas press office on 0207 612 0206 or 07788 725 185 or email press@bpas.org

Notes to Editors

The full report, Births in England and Wales, 2013, can be accessed here.

About the British Pregnancy Advisory Service

bpas is a charity which provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception from more than 40 centres across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice.