Rising immigration fuels 26-year fertility high
By Emma Henry and agencies
Last Updated: 1:59am BST 08/06/2007
Rising immigration and older mothers have fuelled a 26-year high in the number of children women are having in England and Wales.
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show the average number of children has risen for a fifth straight year to 1.87, the highest rate since 1980.
The last decade has seen a 77 per cent increase in births by mothers born outside of the UK, with the figure climbing to almost 150,000, or over a fifth of all babies, last year.
As Britain's demographics change, Mohammed is expected soon to replace Jack as the most popular boy's name. It has already pushed Thomas into third place.
Older mothers, also played a part in the rising fertility rate, with more women choosing to break off their careers to get pregnant. Births to women aged between 35 and 39 rose seven per cent last year and the number of babies born to women aged over 40 and over has almost doubled in the last decade.
The trend towards leaving parenthood until later has been encouraged by advances in fertility treatments and workplace pressures. Fertility expert Lord Winston warned this month that it is allowing IVF clinics to exploit couples desperate for children.
Women in the West Midlands had the most children in England, with 1.96 children per woman, while the lowest rate was the North East, at 1.78 children.
The infant death rate remained at the lowest level ever, at five deaths per 1,000, the same as for 2005. There were 3,368 infant deaths recorded in England and Wales last year.