Perinatal Statistics Report 2009

Media Release for "Perinatal Statistics Report 2009" by the Health Research and Information Division, The Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI), Dublin.



Perinatal Statistics Report 2009

Health Research and Information Division, The Economic & Social Research Institute. This report presents information reported to the National Perinatal Reporting System (NPRS) on pregnancy outcomes, together with descriptive social and biological characteristics of all mothers giving birth and all babies born in Ireland in 2009. Some of the main findings of the 2009 report are: Births – Numbers and Rates

  • 76,021 births were notified to the NPRS in 2009.
  • Ireland again reported the highest birth rate of any of the 27 EU countries (17.0 per 1,000 population); the birth rate was 14.4 per 1,000 population in 2000.
  • The twinning rate for 2009 was 15.9 per 1,000 maternities. Multiple births included 1,186 sets of twins, 13 sets of triplets and 1 set of quadruplets.
  • The perinatal mortality rate was 6.9 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths in 2009, (6.8 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths for singleton births and 12.0 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths for multiple births).
  • At 2.1, the total period fertility rate for Ireland achieved the level required for the long-term replacement of the population in the absence of any net inward migration.

Commenting on this report Professor Michael Turner stated: "As Director of the HSE Obstetrics and Gynaecology programme in the Directorate of Strategy and Clinical Programmes, I welcome the NPRS 2009 Annual Report which shows that the perinatal mortality rate in Ireland has improved in the first decade of the 21st century. There has been a significant decline in both the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths which is a tribute to all the staff in the different disciplines working in the maternity hospitals.” Method of Delivery, Birthweight and Breastfeeding

  • Over 26% of women delivered by caesarean section in 2009, compared to 21% in 2000, representing a 25% increase in deliveries by caesarean section over the decade.
  • The average birth weight of babies born in 2009 was 3,466g. Low birthweight babies (weighing less than 2,500g) represented 5% of all births in 2009, which is unchanged since 2000.
  • Over 45% of babies were reported to be exclusively breastfed at discharge from hospital, this compares to 38% in 2000.

Age, Marital Status and Nationality of Mothers

  • The average age of women giving birth has increased from 30.2 years in 2000 to 31.3 years in 2009.
  • Over 27% of women giving birth were aged 35 years or older, up from 22% for this age group in 2000; 3% of women giving birth were aged 19 years or less, compared to almost 6% in 2000.
  • Of all women giving birth in 2009, 42% gave birth for the first time, with an average age of 29.1 years for first time mothers. Of all first deliveries, 31% were to women aged 30-34 years.
  • Over 32% of births were to single mothers. The average age of single mothers was 27.5 years.
  • Almost 24% of births in 2009 were to mothers born outside Ireland.
  • There were 148 home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives in 2009 compared with 216 in 2000.

In conclusion Professor Michael Turner notes: “Ireland has the highest fertility rate in the EU and this report shows an increase in the average age of mothers and the proportion of first-time mothers. A continuing increase in the caesarean section rate, together with an increase in the number of multiple births, is indicative of increasing complexity. Serious challenges will therefore arise as we aim to ensure a successful outcome of pregnancy for both the mother and her offspring in the face of the decreasing healthcare budget".

Note to Editors: 1. In 2009, 20 maternity hospitals/units and 17 independent midwives in Ireland reported to NPRS. 2. The National Perinatal Reporting System has as its principal aim the provision of national statistics on perinatal events. The ESRI has been responsible for managing, and reporting on, the NPRS on behalf of the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive since 1999. 3. The current and previous NPRS Annual Reports are available at: