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Monday 22 October 2018

Boom time for babies as births soar in recession

Highest number for more than 100 years

Louise Hogan

Ireland is experiencing a baby boom with the highest number of births last year in more than a century.

The reason behind the surge appears to be down to the baby boomers of the 1980s going on to have their own children.

During 2008 there were a staggering 75,065 babies registered -- exactly 1,001 more than the height of the last boom, which peaked in 1980 with 74,064 babies born.

More than 40pc of the births in 2008 were to first-time mothers and a third were outside marriage.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures, 2008 saw the highest number of births registered since 1896 when 75,332 were recorded.

Sandra Tobin, a CSO statistician, explained that a large number of Ireland's population were now of child-bearing age.

She pointed out the baby boomers of the 1980s were now having their own children, while the volume of people attracted to Ireland during the Celtic Tiger era has also added to the boom.

Increase

"There has been a large inward migration of young men and women which would have had an effect," she said.

Master of the Coombe Hospital, Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, confirmed the rise continued into this year, with a 4.4pc increase in the number of births from January to August of this year compared with the same period in 2008.

"With capacity in the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital approaching maximum, the current infrastructure and configuration of the hospital are constraints on the expansion of a high quality service to mothers," he said.

There was an urgent need for short-term investment in infrastructure and to fast track the recommendations to co-locate the hospital on the site of Tallaght Hospital, he added.

And, this surge in births will also have an implication on the country's facilities and infrastructure into the future, according to Brendan Williams, a UCD lecturer on urban planning.

Teenagers

He said that these figures could be used to develop a clear picture of the country's education, housing and infrastructure needs for the next 15 to 20 years.

The number of teenagers becoming mothers has dropped by a fifth since 2001, with a further slight fall last year to 2,426, including 46 under the age of 16.

"The rate of teenage births in Ireland is relatively low in comparison with other countries. However, it is an issue which the agency works to address," Caroline Spillane, director of Crisis Pregnancy Agency, said.

She pointed out that research has shown young people who have a communicative relationship with their parents with regards to sex are more likely to use contraception.

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