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Mums in north waiting longer to have children

Belfast mayor, Nuala McAllister was 27 when she had her first child, Finn last August. Nuala is pictured with her partner, Sam Nelson and son, Finn
Marie Louise McConville

WOMEN in Northern Ireland are waiting longer to have babies and are having fewer of them, new statistics have revealed.

Figures show that the average age of first time mums has increased from 24 to 28 years since 1986.

In addition, the average number of children per woman of child bearing age - which is officially 15-44 years - has fallen from 2.44 to 1.95 over the same period.

The Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) figures show that in 2016, of the 24,076 births registered in Northern Ireland just over one fifth were to mothers aged 35 and over.

Almost half (43 per cent) of the births occurred outside of marriage, with 3.3 per cent (791) to teenage mothers.

There were also 82 stillbirths registered in Northern Ireland last year.

The report also shows that both men and women are waiting, on average, six years longer to tie the knot than 30 years ago.

The average ages of first time brides and grooms last year was 30 and 32 respectively.

There was a total of 8,306 marriages and 84 civil partnerships registered last year.

August was again the most popular month for weddings with Saturday, August 6 the most popular day.

In addition, there were 2,572 divorces and eight civil partnership dissolutions granted last year with non-cohabitation remaining the most frequently recorded reason for separation.

The NISRA report also highlights that life expectancy has been increasing for both men and women over the years and this is reflected in the age profile of those that died.

In 2016, 36 per cent of the 15,430 people who died were aged under 75. This is compared to 50 per cent 30 years ago.

Cancer continued to be the leading cause of death in 2016, accounting for 29 per cent of all deaths

The population also continues to rise reaching 1.862 million in the year ending 30 June 2016.

Belfast mayor Nuala McAllister, who had her first child Finn last August at the age of 27, said she wanted to start and complete her family while she was young.

She said she believed many women put off having children until later because of career concerns, describing it as a "major factor now".

"I wanted to have my children young... because of what I wanted to do in my career. I do think you can have it all.You can have the career and the family but it's hard".

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PANEL:

ALMOST 900 babies were born last year to women over the age of 40.

The figures show that the over 40s in Northern Ireland have overtaken women under 20 having babies.

The NISRA statistics show that, of more than 24,000 births last year, 825 babies were born to women aged between 40 and 44 while 42 were born to women over the age of 45.

Women under 20 accounted for 791 of the births.

The figures reflect the growing trend of women having babies in their 40s. Singer Janet Jackson gave birth to a son Eissa earlier this year at the age of 50.

Actress Halle Berry was 41 when she had her first child, a daughter in 2008 and was 47 when she had her son, Maceo in 2013.

Other older mums include Kelly Preston, who had the third child at 48 and Holly Hunter who had twins at 47.

Of the babies born in Northern Ireland last year, the majority were born to women aged between 30 and 34.

The biggest majority of fathers also fell within this age group although six men aged 50-54 became fathers last year along with one aged 55-59 and two men aged 60-plus.

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