Older mothers - facts and figures
Are there really more "older mothers" than ever before, or has this been exaggerated by the media?
The Office for National Statistics reports that fertility rates in England and Wales rose from 113.1 births per thousand females aged 30–34 in 2009, to 117.8 in 2010. This has been the trend for the last two decades, during which the number of live births to mothers aged 40 and over has nearly trebled from 9,717 in 1990, to 27,731 in 2010.
The standardised average (mean) age of mother has risen from 29.4 years in 2009 to 29.5 years in 2010, compared with 28.5 years in 2000. These trends reflect the increasing number of women who have postponed childbearing to a later age. This may be due to a number of things such as increased participation in higher education, establishing a career, getting on the 'housing ladder' and ensuring financial stability before starting a family.**
The number of births in a given year is dependent on the number of women in the key childbearing ages (15-44 years) and on fertility rates in that year.
The number of live births in 2010 increased for all ages except women aged under 20 compared with 2009.
For ages 20-24, 25-29 and 30-34, the rise in births was driven by a rise in fertility and a rise in the estimated female population at these ages in England and Wales between mid-2009 and mid-2010. For ages 35-39 and 40 and over, the rise in births was driven solely by a rise in fertility (as the estimated female population in England and Wales aged 35-39 and 40-44 decreased between mid-2009 and mid-2010).
The decrease in births to women aged under 20 in 2010 was caused by falling fertility at this age and also a decrease in the number of women aged 15-19 between mid-2009 and mid-2010.
Annual changes in the size and age-structure of the female population aged 15-44 are driven by migration, mortality, the number of women entering the key childbearing ages (those turning 15 years of age) and the number of women exiting the key childbearing ages (those reaching age 45).
ONS Birth summary tables, England and Wales, 2010
Read ONS Births and Deaths in England and Wales, 2010 (PDF)
Birth statistics for Scotland
Birth statistics for Northern Ireland
Celebrity older mothers »»
Fertility Rates - Europe
- Germany: 8.6
- Latvia: 8.8
- Hungary: 9.4
- Greece: 9.4
- Czech Republic: 9.6
- Austria: 9.7
- Italy: 9.7
- Spain: 10.6
- UK: 12.0
- France: 12.7
- Ireland : 15.2
India: number of first-time mums over 40 increasing...
“I see many more 40-year-old mothers-to-be in my practice,” says Dr Indira Hinduja, gynaecologist and obstetrician at the Jaslok hospital. “A few years back there was 0nly the odd case of late pregnancy. But off late, it has almost become a regular thing.” Agrees Dr CN Purandare, obstetrician and gynaecologist: “With the marriage age being pushed further, more women above 35 and even 40 are planning and going through with late pregnancies.” Read article in full » [will open in new window]
** (Jefferies J (2008)
Fertility Assumptions for the 2006-based national population projections, Population Trends 131 pp 19-27 available at: www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/article.asp?ID=2087.