Teenage birth rate unchanged in east Antrim

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New figures show that despite births to teenage mothers falling to a record low nationwide, the situation in East Antrim is largely unchanged.

The findings were revealed in the provisional 2013 birth statistics released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), which are collected regularly in order to plan for future maternity care and school provision in the province.

In 2013 there were 940 registered births to teenage mothers nationwide, the lowest number on record, compared with 1,100 in 2012.

Reacting to the findings, NISRA spokesman David Marshall stated: “The number of births fell last year, with births to younger mothers, especially teenage mothers, falling sharply.

“These demographic changes impact on society and will influence public policy.”

However, in the East Antrim area birth rate change for teenage mothers was less dramatic, with six fewer births in Larne, 17 fewer births in Newtownabbey and just one more birth in Carrickfergus.

There was also a slight increase in the percentage of babies born to mothers from outside Northern Ireland in the local area, with an increase of 1.9 per cent in Newtownabbey and 0.3 per cent in Carrickfergus over the past year.

In contrast, in Larne there was a one per cent decrease in births to mothers from outside Northern Ireland.

Overall, the birth rate in Larne increased by just over 11 per cent in the 2012-13 period, while the birth rate decreased by 10 per cent in Carrickfergus and by nearly 12 per cent in Newtownabbey in that time.

Nationwide, over 10 per cent of births were to mothers born outside the UK and Ireland, representing the highest percentage on record.

Sixteen years ago this percentage stood at just over two per cent.

Additionally, the age at which women give birth is increasing, with just over half of all births to mothers aged 30 or over.

Almost 60 per cent of births in Northern Ireland occurred in three hospitals; the Royal Maternity Hospital in Belfast, the Ulster Hospital Dundonald and Craigavon Area Hospital.

Meanwhile, the number of births at Antrim Area Hospital remained practically unchanged, with 2,640 in 2012 and 2,638 in 2013.

In addition, the statistics revealed that over half of all births in Larne (51.8 per cent) in 2013 were to unmarried mothers, compared with just over 42 per cent in Newtownabbey and 47 per cent in Carrickfergus.