Women in Britain are more empowered than ever before to make well-informed decisions about their careers, their lives and their desire – or lack of desire – to have children. And yet, women are still often judged: for not wanting children, for having too many children, for having children too early in life, for having them too late in life – the list goes on.
Keen to find some insight on the topic, the team at Chemist 4 U researched and compiled a number of key points surrounding pregnancy statistics in the UK.
Table of Contents:
- The fall in fertility rate
- Women in their 40s have more babies than teens
- The role of the contraceptive pill
- One in ten women fall pregnant while on the contraceptive pill
- Sterilisation rates in British women
- Stillbirths fall to all-time low
- Abortion rates
- Women in 30s have more abortions than teens
- UK babies affected by mothers’ alcohol intake level
- Out-of-marriage babies
- The oldest and youngest women to give birth in the UK
The UK’s fertility Rate is Falling
Women in Their 40s Are Now Having More Children than Women in Their Teens
Fertility rate is the number of babies that a woman has in her lifetime. The UK’s fertility rate is in decline. Women now give birth to 1.9 children on average – down from 2.2 for the previous generation of UK mothers.
This is due to two main factors (according to ONS). Firstly, fewer women are having children in general, due to personal choice. Secondly, there is a significant reduction in teen pregnancy. Just 6% of women now have babies in their teenage years. That is a rate which stands at less than women in their 40s.
As a result, the UK is experiencing the lowest conception rate since 2005.
The role of the contraceptive pill
One in Ten British Women Fall Pregnant While on the Contraceptive Pill
The use of contraceptive products and advice is in general decline. In 2017-18 in England, 792,636 women used these services – a 16% fall on the year of 2014-15.
There has also been a huge 32% fall in the use of emergency contraception in the last ten years.
However, overall use is still high. In 2017, 41% of women in England were using reversible contraceptives. 42% were using oral contraceptives.
That’s not to say they always work. According to the Pearl Index, a BBC record of contraceptive failures:
- 1 in 2,000 women fall pregnant whilst using the implant
- 1 in 500 women fall pregnant while using an IUS
- 1 in 100 women fall pregnant while using an IUD (the coil)
- 1 in 10 women fall pregnant while using the contraceptive pill
Sterilisation rates in British women
2,000 British women aged 25-29 are sterilised each year
The number of British women opting to undergo sterilisation – the operation to permanently prevent pregnancy – is in general decline. But it is still empowering young women to make their own fertility choices.
Figures published by Digital NHS, indicated that 2,000 women aged 25-29 opted to have the sterilisation procedure in 2018-2019. By comparison, that is four times the number of vasectomies performed on males in the same age bracket.
Stillbirths fall to an all-time low in the UK
4.2 of 1,000 births in the UK are stillbirths
The rate of stillbirths in England and Wales is declining steadily.
In 2017, the number fell by 7.7%, and since 2007 there has been a very encouraging drop of just over 21%. There are now only 4.2 stillbirths per 1000 babies born, which is the lowest number since records began way back in 1927.
Abortion rates in the UK
Women in 30s have more abortions than teens
UK women in their 30s have more abortions than teens. The abortion rate for teenagers is 8.3 per 1,000, while those aged 30-34 is 18.5 per 1,000. This number has increased dramatically in recent years.
In 2017, 22.7% of UK pregnancies led to abortion, with 200,000 abortions taking place in 2018, totalling £178.4million spent on abortions per year.
Other interesting facts:
- The majority of abortions - 9 out of 10 to be exact - are carried out before the 13th week of pregnancy
- In 2017, 38% of women who had abortions had already had one or more in the past
- The UK’s abortion rate was steadily in decline pre-2017. New government legislation in 2017 introduced a cap on child benefits, and as a result, the number of abortions rose to 197,533.
The UK’s foetal alcohol spectrum disorder level
Babies in the UK affected by mother’s alcohol intake is four times higher than global average
The number of babies born with Foetol Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is four times higher in the UK than the global average – it stands at a figure of 61 per 10,000 births.
Before 2016, it was suggested by the country’s Chief Medical Officers that small amounts of alcohol taken during pregnancy were medically safe, but the advice has since been changed to strongly discourage pregnant women from drinking at all.
58% of women conceive outside of marriage
58% of women are now conceiving their children outside of marriage. This number has risen by 7% since 1998.
68% of women who fell pregnant outside of marriage in 2016 chose to keep their baby, while 92% of those within a marriage or civil partnership did so.
It is reported that around one in six pregnancies is unplanned.
The oldest and youngest women to give birth in the UK
Middlesbrough has highest number of child mothers in the UK
According to the Telegraph, a British woman currently holds the global record for the oldest person to give natural birth to a child (without the aid of In Vitro Fertilisation or any other medical conception assistance). She was 59 years old when she gave birth to her son in 1997.
The UK’s youngest mother was Tressa Middleton, who gave birth to a girl in 2006 at the age of 12, having become pregnant at 11 years old.
There have been reports of other UK-based individuals meeting or breaking these records, but the above are the two most clearly validated cases.
As of 2016, the largest number of individuals to give birth between the ages of 15 and 17 were found to be in Hyndburn and Middlesbrough, with 36.7 and 36.5 teenagers per thousand within this age bracket giving birth that year.
There were 51 conceptions in Hyndburn in total that year, and 90 in Middlesbrough.
Teen pregnancies have declined by around 60% over the last ten years, with the ONS considering factors such as more time spent with family and lower alcohol consumption to be the main causes of this.