ONS data shows continued trend towards older motherhood, decline in teenage births
- ONS data shows decline in total number of births and continued trend towards older motherhood.
- Average age of motherhood increased from 30.0 in 2013 to 30.2 in 2014, the highest figure on record.
- Fertility rates (live births per 1,000 women) have increased across all age groups over 30, and declined among younger women.
- Over last 20 years, fertility rates for women under 20 have almost halved while rates for women over 40 have more than doubled.
Data released today by the ONS demonstrates that the trend towards older motherhood is continuing, while younger women are significantly less likely to give birth than in previous years. During 2014, fertility rates declined in all age groups under 30 while increasing among women aged over 30. The data shows:
- In 2014, the sharpest decline in fertility rates was seen in women aged under-20, dropping from 17.4 births per 1,000 women in this age group in 2013 to 15.6 in 2014. This represents a dramatic fall over the course of five years, with a fertility rate of 24.8 for under-20s in 2009.
- The most significant increase was seen in women aged 35-39, rising from 62.9 births per 1,000 women in 2013 to 64.5 in 2014. In 2009, the fertility rate for this age group was at 58.1.
- There was also a slight increase in the fertility rate for women aged over 40, from 14.5 in 2013 to 14.7 in 2014.
- Last year, there were more babies born to women aged over 40 (29,010) than to those aged under-20 (25,977).
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, commented:
“The decline in teenage births is 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. But it also reflects broader social shifts, with younger women expecting and able to pursue educational and professional ambitions. We do however need to ensure that those younger women who do want to be pregnant do not feel stigmatised and have the support they need to make the choices that are right for them.
“Women are often warned about the dangers of leaving it “too late” to try for a family, and this data confirms that far from facing a fertility cliff-edge at age 35, women still have a good chance of conceiving. We hope this provides some reassurance to them. There are a variety of reasons why women are choosing to postpone motherhood, from career development to the ever-increasing cost of raising a child. Rather than trying to push women into have children before they are ready, we should be focusing on supporting women’s choices to have children at the time in their lives which is best for them. As the trend towards older motherhood continues, we need to provide women with accurate, evidence based information about their fertility to enable them to make informed decisions around planning their family, and we also need to ensure that our maternity services are equipped to provide the additional care that some older mothers may require.”
For further information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377 or 07788 725 185 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The full set of data, Birth Summary Tables: England and Wales 2014, is available online here.
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.