Families smaller as women delay becoming mums
Mothers are getting older and having smaller families, but the number of babies born each year is still way higher than it was a decade ago.
There were 71,674 children born in Ireland in 2012 which was over 11,000 or 18pc more than a decade earlier, a new report from the Central Statistics Office shows.
However, that was down from the peak of the baby boom between 2008 and 2010 when over 75,000 babies were born each year - the most in over a century.
Throughout most of the 20th century fewer than 70,000 babies a year were born, dipping as low as 51,627 in the 1990s, the CSO's Vital Statistics report shows.
There were 1,218 sets of twins born in 2012, which was twice as many as 20 years earlier, and 33 sets of triplets, compared to just eight in 1992.
The twinning rate has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, presumably as a result of IVF.
The average age of mothers giving birth was 32 in 2012 and only a third were aged less than 30, which is down from 43pc a decade earlier,
As well as waiting longer, women now have an average of just 1.99 babies each - which is less than the fertility rate of 2.1 needed for the population to keep replacing itself without inward migration.
Some 25,179 babies were born outside marriage or civil partnership, corresponding to 35pc of all births, though in Limerick city 56pc of babies were born outside marriage.
However, births hugely outnumber deaths, as 29,186 people died in Ireland in 2012, resulting in a natural increase in population of over 42,000 that year.
A third of all deaths were attributed to diseases of the circulatory system such as heart attacks and strokes, while 8,781 people died from cancer and 3,497 people died from diseases of the respiratory system.
Some 541 people died by suicide in 2012, which was marginally down on the previous year but still accounting for one in 50 of all deaths. Of those who took their own lives, some 82pc were men.
Overall, some 1,577 people died of external causes of injury and poisoning which includes traffic accidents, suicide and overdoses.
Some 237 infants died before their first birthday in 2012 - with congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities the main causes.