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Latest statistics on conception and fertility rates including time-series data. Statistics include conception rates by outcome (maternity or abortion), conception and fertility rates by age, area of residence, and total fertility rates, general fertility rates and average family size.

Publications

Annual Conceptions to Women aged under 18, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
This publication has been discontinued as a result of the review of conception statistics. Conception Statistics provide annual figures on conceptions to women usually resident in England and Wales including figures for under 18s by local authority level while Quarterly Conceptions to Women aged under 18 provide provisional quarterly estimates of conceptions to women aged under 18 by regions and other local authority areas within England and Wales.
Childbearing of UK and non-UK born women living in the UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
Reports on the fertility patterns of UK and non-UK born women living in the UK, and its constituent countries.
Cohort Fertility, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Fertility by year of birth of mother rather than the year of birth of child. Includes average number of live-born children and the proportion of women remaining childless for each year.
Conception Statistics, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Annual Statistics on conceptions covering conception counts and rates, split by age group including women under 18.
Conception summary tables, England and Wales (provisional)
Department: Office for National Statistics
This publication has been discontinued as a result of the review of conception statistics. Conception Statistics provide annual figures on conceptions to women usually resident in England and Wales while Quarterly Conceptions to Women aged under 18 provide provisional quarterly estimates of conceptions to women aged under 18 by regions and other local authority areas within England and Wales.
Fertility Summary
Department: Office for National Statistics
Comparison of fertility in the four UK constituent countries; England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Fertility and Migration
Department: Office for National Statistics
Report on Fertility patterns in the UK for UK born and Non-UK born mothers in the period 2007 - 2010. Includes investigation of fertility patterns at the country level, and also of specific non-UK maternal countries of birth.
Quarterly Conceptions to Women aged under 18, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Provides the quarterly number of conceptions to women aged under 18 for England and Wales by regions and other local authority areas.
Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
These tables provide annual and quarterly data for a selection of key statistics under the following themes: population, demography and health.

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Overview

Conception Rates

This topic includes quarterly and annual conception rates for women resident in England and Wales. Conception rates are published by age group and by woman’s area of residence. Conception statistics are broken down into those terminated by a legal abortion and those resulting in a maternity.

Provisional quarterly conception statistics are released in Health Statistics Quarterly once both maternity and abortion figures for the relevant quarter are available. Provisional annual figures are released when data for all four quarters are available. Final conception statistics are published after associated birth and abortion files have been finalised.

Conception rates for women aged under 18 are used for monitoring the Public Service Agreement (PSA) target on teenage pregnancy. The target is to reduce the under 18 conception rate by 50 per cent by 2010 (using 1998 as a base year).

Fertility Rates

This topic includes fertility rates based on live birth registrations in the quarter or year in question. Fertility rates are published for all ages, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR), and by five year age group, Age-Specific Fertility Rates (ASFRs).

UK fertility rates are compiled from complete statistics of birth registration in all the constituent countries.

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Technical Data

Conception Rates

Conceptions data combine information from registration of births (see FM1 Birth statistics) and notifications of legal abortions occurring in England and Wales for women who are usually resident there. From 1 April 2002, the Department of Health has processed and analysed the abortion notification forms (HSA4) which are sent to the Chief Medical Officers of England and Wales.

Conception statistics for England and Wales include pregnancies that result in one or more live or still births (a maternity) or a legal abortion under the Abortion Act 1967 (an abortion). They do not include miscarriages or illegal abortions.

The date of conception is estimated using recorded gestation for abortions and stillbirths, and assuming 38 weeks gestation for live births. A woman’s age at conception is calculated as the number of complete years between her date of birth and the date she conceived. In many cases her birthday will occur between conception and the birth or abortion and the conception and birth may also occur in different calendar years. For these reasons the number of conceptions to women of a given age in a given year does not match the number of maternities and abortions to women of the same age occurring in that year.

Mother’s age is imputed if not available on the maternity record. Full details of imputation methods used for each publication can be found in the relevant publication.

For area analysis, the postcode of the woman’s address at the time of the maternity or abortion is used to determine the health authority she was living in at the time of the conception. Direct comparisons with conceptions data by area published in previous years are not always possible because of boundary changes.

For full technical information see Conception statistics.

Fertility Rates

Fertility rates for England and Wales are based on data on live births collected through the births registration system. Every registrar of births and deaths is required to secure the prompt registration of births occurring within the sub-district covered. Registration of a birth is legally required within 42 days of its occurrence.

Most of the information, for both live and stillbirths, is supplied to registrars by one or both parents. Informants are required to provide certain information treated as confidential, under the provisions of the Population Statistics Act. Details provided by the parents include date of birth, place of birth, sex, birthplace of parents, mother’s usual address and occupation. Details required under the Population Statistics Act include mother’s date of birth, father’s date of birth (where his name is on the certificate), and for births within marriage: the date of marriage and numbers of previous live born and stillborn children.

For the latest fertility statistics, see the National Statistics website.

If any of these required data items is missing, an appropriate value is imputed. For further details on the imputation methodology see section 1.4 of FM1 Birth statistics.

The population figures used to calculate fertility rates for England and Wales are the mid-year estimates of the resident population of England and Wales based on the 2001 Census of Population and updated each year.  Where fertility rates are published prior to the mid-year estimates, population projections are used for national level data. Further details about population estimates can be found on the estimates page of the National Statistics website.

Marital status estimates are used to calculate fertility rates within and outside marriage.

For full technical information see FM1 Birth statistics.

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Glossary

  • Abortion

    The legal termination of a pregnancy under the 1967 Abortion Act.

  • Age at conception

    A woman's age at conception is estimated as the number of complete years between her date of birth and the date she conceived.  In many cases her birthday will occur between conception and the birth or abortion; a woman may conceive, for example at age 17 and give birth at age 18.  The conception and birth may also occur in different calendar years.  For these reasons the number of conceptions to women in a given year, does not match the number of maternities and abortions to women occurring in that year.

  • Age-Specific Fertility Rate (ASFR)

    The number of live births to mothers of a particular age per 1,000 women in that age group. Useful for comparing fertility of women at different ages or women of the same age in different populations.

  • Annual Reference Volume (ARV)

    ARVs are annual publications produced by the Office for National Statistics for a variety of topics (for example, Birth statistics, series FM1).

  • Average family size

    Average family size represents the number of births each woman has achieved by a specified age, for a cohort of women (such as, women born in a particular year).

  • Canadian Census Edit and Imputation System (CANCEIS)

    A donor-based imputation system, developed by Statistics Canada, used since 2004 to impute missing values for Population Statistics Act data items for birth records.

  • Cohort

    A specific group of people, in this case, those born during a particular year. Analysis using cohorts considers the experience of that group of people over time.

  • Conception

    The Office for National Statistics uses the definition - a pregnancy of a woman which leads either to a maternity or an abortion.

  • Crude birth rate

    The number of live births in a year per 1,000 mid-year population.

  • Date of conception

    Information on the exact date of conception is not collected at the registration of the birth or on the abortion notification form.  The date of conception is therefore estimated as 38 weeks before the date of birth for live births. For stillbirths, date of conception is calculated as the date of birth less the stated gestation period and for abortions, it is taken as the date of termination less the stated gestation, plus 14 days.

  • First release

    Once an annual dataset from a particular source such as birth registration has been quality assured, its first publication is referred to as a First Release. This is accompanied by a news, or press, release which details the main findings.

  • General Fertility Rate (GFR)

    The number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. Measure of current fertility levels.

  • General Household Survey (GHS)

    A continuous survey carried out by ONS, collecting information on a range of topics from people living in private households in Great Britain.

  • General Register Office (GRO)

    The GRO (part of the Identity and Passport Service since 1 April 2008) is responsible for ensuring the registration of all births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships that have occurred in England and Wales and for maintaining a central archive.

  • Gross Reproduction Rate (GRR)

    The sum of age-specific fertility rates for female births only. The average number of live daughters that a woman would bear in her life, if the female population experienced current ASFRs based on female births throughout their childbearing years.

  • Health statistics quarterly

    A quarterly National Statistics publication that covers mortality and health information, including articles and reports on conceptions.

  • Imputation

    A method used to add a missing value to an incomplete record, using the details from another similar but complete record.

  • Informant

    The person(s), normally one or both parents, who provide the registrar with the information required at the registration of a birth.

  • Joint registration

    A birth outside marriage registered by both the mother and father of the child. Both parents’ details are recorded and both must be present at the registration.

  • Live birth

    A baby showing signs of life at birth.  

  • Maternity

    A confinement resulting in the birth of one or more live-born or stillborn children. Therefore, the number of maternities (and paternities) is less than the total number of live births and stillbirths.

  • Mean

    A common measure of the average. The values are summed and then divided by the total number of observations.

  • Median

    Statistical term for the value for which half the data are above and half are below. An alternative measure of the average to the mean.

  • Multiple births

    A single maternity resulting in two or more births.

  • National statistics code of practice

    The principles and protocols followed and upheld by all those involved in producing National Statistics.

  • Natural change

    The change to the size of the population due to births and deaths (not taking into account the contribution of migration).

  • Net Reproduction Rate (NRR)

    Similar to the GRR, but also takes into account the effect of mortality of women of childbearing age.

  • News release

    A news, or press, release details the main findings in a First Release.

  • Notification

    A document completed by the doctor or midwife present at the birth. The notification provides certain data items, such as the birthweight, to the birth record.

  • NS-SEC

    National Statistics Socio-economic Classification categorises the socio-economic classification of people, and has replaced the Registrar General’s Social Class and the Socio-economic Group (SEG).

  • Occurrences

    Births which occur in a given period, for example a calendar year.

  • ONS

    Office for National Statistics. Since 1 April 2008, ONS is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority. 

  • OPCS

    Office of Population Censuses and Surveys - joined with Central Statistical Office in 1996 to become the Office for National Statistics.  

  • Parity

    The number of live births a woman has had. A woman who has one child has a parity of one. See Registration Birth Order and True Birth Order.

  • Place of confinement

    Place where a birth occurs. 

  • Population statistics act

    This Act makes provision for certain information to be collected at the registration of the birth for statistical use. This information is confidential and is not entered on the register.

  • Population trends

    A quarterly National Statistics publication that covers population and demographic information, including articles and reports on births.

  • Ratio

    A measure of the relative size of two variables.

  • Registrar

    Local authority employee responsible for the registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships.

  • Registrar general

    Statutory appointment with responsibility for the administration of the registration Acts in England and Wales, and other related functions as specified by the relevant legislation.

  • Registration birth order

    The number assigned to a birth based on the number of previous live births to that mother, counting only those births fathered by her current or any previous husband(s).

  • Registration officer

    Generic term for registrar, superintendent registrar and additional registrars. 

  • Registrations

    Births that were registered in a particular period, even though some may have occurred in an earlier period.

  • RON

    Registration online. A web-based system which enables registrars to record births, stillbirths, deaths and civil partnerships online. 

  • RSS

    Registration Service Software. System of collecting data electronically at the registration of a birth or a death. Used prior to the introduction of RON. 

  • Seasonality

    The effect of seasonal fluctuations on monthly and quarterly births figures.

  • Sex ratio

    The number of males per 1,000 females, most often for live births, but also for stillbirths.

  • Single men/women

    Persons who have never been married or in a civil partnership.

  • Singleton

    Only birth born in a maternity.

  • SOC2000

    Standard Occupational Classification 2000 is the current occupational classification. SOC2000 codes, details of employment status and size of organisation are required for the derivation of NS-SEC. See NS-SEC.

  • Sole registration

    A birth outside of marriage registered only by the mother. No information on the father is recorded.

  • Standardised mean age

    The average age (for example, at birth or marriage) of the population in question calculated to take into account the changing distribution of that population by age over time. This mean should be used when analysing trends.

  • Stillbirth

    A child that has issued forth from its mother after the 24th week of pregnancy, and that did not at any time after being completely expelled from its mother breathe or show any signs of life.

  • Stillbirth rate

    The stillbirth rate is defined as the number of stillbirths per 1,000 live births and stillbirths.

  • Superintendent Registrar

    Local authority employee with responsibilities relating to marriage and other registration functions, as specified in the relevant legislation.

  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

    The TFR is the average number of live children a group of women would have if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates for the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing lifespan.

  • True birth order

    The number assigned to a birth based on the number of previous live births to that mother, counting all births inside or outside of marriage.

  • UK Statistics Authority

    The UK Statistics Authority is an independent body operating at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament. It was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

  • Unstandardised mean age

    The average age (for example, at birth or marriage) of the population in question, calculated as the actual average for a particular year. It does not take into account the changing distribution of that population over time. This measure should be used when requiring a mean for particular year.

  • VSOB

    Vital Statistics Output Branch (at ONS).

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Lois Cook

Email: vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1329 444110

Vital Statistics Outputs Branch (Data requests) Office for National Statistics Segensworth Road Titchfield Fareham PO15 5RR

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