ONE in three babies is now born out of wedlock in this country.
The percentage of babies born outside of marriage rose to 33.8pc nationwide in the third quarter of last year -- an increase of 2.3pc over the same period in 2005, new Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures reveal.
The figures also reveal striking variations between the number of babies born to unmarried parents in urban and rural locations.
City dwellers are far more likely to have a child outside of wedlock than their rural counterparts.
In Limerick city as many as 58pc of all births were to unmarried parents. But outside the city this figure dropped dramatically to 34pc.
In Cork city, 45pc of all births during this period were to unmarried parents, while in the county this dropped to 28pc.
The lowest level of births to unmarried couples in the country was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown in Co Dublin and in Co Galway -- at just one quarter.
Co Meath recorded the highest birth rate in the country during the last quarter of 2010, at 23.2 per 1,000 of population (996 babies).
Limerick city recorded the lowest birth rate of 11 per 1,000 of population (173 babies).
Of the 6,481 babies born to unmarried parents here between July and September last year, half of them were residing at the same address.
This amounted to 18pc of all babies born during this period -- up by 1pc on 2007.