More babies born here than anywhere else in Europe
Ireland has the highest birth rate in Europe according to the latest statistics from the ESRI.
They show that over 76,000 births were registered in 2009, and show a marked decrease in neonatal and stillbirths, making the country one of the safest places on the planet to have a child.
Over a quarter of babies were delivered by caesarean section - a 25pc increase since the turn of the century and the average birth weight was 3.46kg or 7 lbs 6 oz.
The ESRI said that almost 24pc of the births were to mothers born outside Ireland.
There is a trend also for mothers to have their babies later in life. In the 12 months covered by the report, the average age of women giving birth was 31.3 years, 27pc of births were to women over the age of 35 with only 3pc to women aged 19 or less.
The ESRI point out that the fertility rate is now 2.1 which is the level required for the long-term replacement of the population in the absence of any net inward migration
Over 45pc of babies were reported to be exclusively breastfed when they were discharged from hospital.
There were 148 home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives in 2009 compared with 216 in 2000.
The National Perinatal Reporting System is used to log every birth in the country.
It lists the social and biological characteristics of all mothers giving birth and all babies born in Ireland.