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UK birth rate highest since 1972, says ONS

EUROPE
By - BBC | August 8th 2013

The UK has experienced its highest birth rate since 1972, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

This contributed to population growth that was, in absolute terms, the highest in the EU in the year to June 2012, it said.

The population grew by 419,900 to 63.7 million between June 2011 and June 2012, according to ONS estimates.

There were 254,400 more births than deaths and 165,600 more people coming to the UK than leaving.

A total of 813,200 UK births were recorded in the year.

The UK remains the third-most populous EU member state, behind Germany and France.

France's population grew by 319,100 to 65,480,500 over the same period while Germany's went up by 166,200 to 80,399,300, says the ONS.

Midwife 'shortage'

There were 517,800 migrants from overseas while 352,100 people left the country, putting net migration at 165,600.

The mid-2012 populations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now estimated to have been 53.5 million, 5.3 million, 3.1 million, and 1.8 million respectively.

London's population has surged by 104,000, with high birth and immigration rates.

Together London, south-east and east England accounted for 53% of growth across the UK in the year while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland jointly accounted for 8%.

More than 51,000 people moved out of London, largely to the South East and East of England, the ONS data shows.

London recorded net international migration of 69,000 - the highest of all regions. Northern Ireland had the lowest net migration growth of about 400, the ONS said.

The capital also recorded 86,000 more births than deaths in the past year, while Scotland notched up 4,200 more births than deaths.

Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick said the high birth rates were putting "considerable pressures on maternity services and we are struggling to provide high quality antenatal and postnatal care".

She said: "Despite recent welcome increases in the numbers of midwives, there is still a shortage.

"England remains around 5,000 midwives short of the number required to provide mothers and babies with the high-quality service they need and deserve.

"Maternity care is the earliest health intervention of all and getting care right for mothers and babies is a vital part of supporting families and building a foundation for good health in later life.

"We need more midwives."

'One-to-one maternity care'

There were 581,800 more 0-6 year olds in the UK in mid-2012 than in mid-2001.

But because of lower birth numbers around the turn of the millennium, the number of children aged seven to 16 is 453,300 less than mid-2001.

At the other end of the population tree, the number of men aged 75 and over has increased by 26%, since mid-2001, compared to a 6% increase for women.

The ONS put this down to positive changes in male smoking habits and advances in health treatments for circulatory illnesses.

Male occupations over the same period have also become less physical and safer, it said.

In January, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said there had been a "historical shortage" of midwives.

But he added: "The number of midwives is increasing faster than the birth rate.

"Most women already have choice and one-to-one maternity care, and we are working closely with the Royal College of Midwives to ensure that personalised, one-to-one maternity care is available for every woman across the country."

- BBC

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