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Statistical news release - Almost 25,000 births registered in 2009

Thursday, 18 March 2010

In total, 24,900 live births were registered in Northern Ireland in 2009, marginally less (3%) than the number of births registered in 2008. This fall in birth registrations halts a six-year (2002-2008) consecutive increase.

These findings are contained in provisional 2009 birth statistics released today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

The recent fall in registered births should be set against the increase in numbers from 2002 to 2008. The number of births registered in 2009 remains well above the record low in 2002, when 21,400 births were registered. It is too early to be definitive about whether the decrease in 2009 indicates a new trend (see editor’s note 3).

Whilst last year the overall number of births registered fell marginally, the number of births to mothers born in the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 remained at 1,100 births. This compares with 10 such births in 2001.

A NISRA spokesperson said: "Whilst the annual number of births registered fell marginally between 2008 and 2009, there were still almost 25,000 births registered in 2009. This is a marked increase from the 21,400 births registered in 2002. In 2009 there were 1,100 births to mothers from Eastern Europe, a similar number to that in 2008."

Further, more detailed statistics, are available in the full release at the NISRA websitelink to external website.


  • In 2009, there were 24,910 births registered to mothers resident in Northern Ireland. This is a 3% decrease on the 2008 figure of 25,631 births. However the number of births registered in 2009 remains well above the record low in 2002 when only 21,385 births were registered;
  • births of 12,799 baby boys and 12,111 baby girls were registered in 2009;
  • a total of 10,733 births (43%) were to first time mothers in 2009, while second time mothers had 8,177 babies (33%) and third time mothers had 3,888 babies (16%). Only eight per cent became mothers for at least the fourth time; and
  • on Friday 10 April, Thursday 30 April and Friday 3 July 2009, 95 babies were born, the largest number of births on any single day in 2009. The most common day of the week to have a baby was Friday, accounting for 16% of all births. Markedly fewer babies were born on Saturdays (12% of all births) and Sundays in 2009 (10% of all births).

Mother's Age

  • Almost half (49%) of all births registered in 2009 were to mothers aged 30 or over. This is a significant increase from thirty years ago when 32% of births were to older mothers. This indicates that women are delaying child-bearing to later in life – a trend seen across the developed world; and
  • the number of births to teenage mothers has fallen in recent years. In 2009 there were 1,334 births to teenage mothers, a 6% decrease on the 1,426 births in 2008, and a decrease of more than 25% from the recent high of 1,791 such births in 1999.

Country of Birth of Mother

  • There were just under 4,400 births registered in Northern Ireland during 2009 where the mother was not born in Northern Ireland (18% of all births). Just under half (47%) of mothers who were not born in Northern Ireland were born either elsewhere in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland (2,053 births);
  • births to mothers who were born outside the United Kingdom and Ireland have risen markedly in recent years, from 616 births in 1999 to 2,318 births last year. Within these figures there has been a large increase in births to mothers born in the eight countries that joined the European Union in 2004 – the A8 countries. Around 10 babies were born to A8 mothers in 2001 compared to over 1,100 such births in 2009;
  • the percentage of births to mothers born outside the UK and Ireland ranged from 20% (1 birth in every 5) in Dungannon Local Government District (180 births) to 3% in Larne Local Government District. Armagh, Belfast, Coleraine and Craigavon Local Government Districts also had relatively high percentages of births (over 10%) to mothers born outside the UK and Ireland; and
  • of Armagh, Belfast, Coleraine, Craigavon and Dungannon Local Government Districts (the highest areas noted above), Belfast was the only area where the number of births to mothers born in “All Other Countries” (i.e. outside UK, Ireland and the A8 countries) was higher than the number of births to A8 born mothers.

Births Outside Marriage

  • Last year, 40% of all registered births occurred outside marriage – an increase on the 2008 figure (39%) and the highest proportion on record. This compares with one in seventeen births (6%) occurring outside marriage in 1979; and
  • the percentage of births outside marriage differs across Northern Ireland. Last year over half of all births in Belfast (58%) and Derry Local Government Districts (52%) occurred outside marriage. In contrast under one quarter of births in Magherafelt Local Government District (23%) occurred outside marriage.

Births by Area

  • At Health and Social Care Trust level, birth rates ranged from 13.1 births per 1,000 population in the Northern Trust area to 15.9 births per 1,000 population in the Southern Trust area. The birth rate in the Belfast, South Eastern and Western Trusts were 14.0, 13.3 and 14.2 births per 1,000 population respectively; and
  • Dungannon Local Government District had the highest birth rate of all the Local Government Districts in 2009 with 16.4 births per 1,000 population while the lowest birth rate was in Carrickfergus Local Government District at 10.6 births per 1,000 population.

Notes to editors:

  1. This information can also be accessed on the NISRA websitelink to external website.
  2. Birth figures have been compiled from returns to local registrars. All 2009 statistics are provisional until final figures are published in the Annual Report of the Registrar General.
  3. The results are based on analysis of all births registered within the 2009 calendar year. This is not necessarily the year these births will have occurred (e.g. a birth that occurs in December 2008 may not be registered until January 2009). Indeed births can be registered up to 42 days after they occur. The monthly registration statistics show relatively high levels in December 2008 and relatively low levels in January 2009. This suggests that when occurrence data becomes available later in the year the fall in the annual number of births between 2008 and 2009 is likely to be smaller than that shown here.
  4. Northern Ireland level rates for 2009 data are calculated on the projected home population as at 30 June 2009. Sub-Northern Ireland level rates are calculated on the mid year population estimate at 30 June 2008 as 2008-based projections for areas within Northern Ireland are not yet available.
  5. All media inquiries should be directed to the DFP Press Office
    Telephone: 028 9052 7374
    Fax: 028 9052 7149
  6. Further information on the statistics provided in this publication can be obtained from NISRA Customer Services at:
    Telephone: 028 9034 8160
    Fax: 028 9034 8161