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Latest statistics on maternities. Statistics include maternity counts tabulated by quarter and month of occurrence, mother’s age, occurrence within or outside marriage, place of confinement and mother’s area of usual residence as well as counts and rates for maternities with multiple births.

Publications

Characteristics of Birth 1, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Annual data on birth registrations. Summary statistics on stillbirths by age of parents, quarter of occurrence; birthweight data.
Characteristics of mother 1, England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Annual data on birth registrations. Contains birth statistics by age of mother, type of registration, and mean age of mother by birth order.
Maternity Statistics: Method of Delivery in Wales
Department: Welsh Government
Provides data on the method of delivery for hospitals only.

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Overview

Maternity figures are derived from the live and stillbirth records collected through the births registration system and published annually in FM1 Birth statistics. This reference volume presents statistics on maternities occurring annually in England and Wales. Statistics for maternities in previous years are included to show trends in fertility. The publication covers maternity counts tabulated by quarter and month of occurrence, mother’s age, occurrence within or outside marriage, number of previous live-born children, place of confinement and mother’s area of usual residence. Counts and rates for maternities with multiple births are presented by occurrence within or outside marriage, mother’s age and type of outcome, that is whether the maternity resulted in live or still birth(s).

Maternity statistics are used to calculate the multiple maternity rate and in the calculation of conception statistics in combination with abortion statistics.

For the latest maternity statistics see FM1 Birth statistics.

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Technical Data

A maternity is a confinement resulting in the birth of one or more live-born or stillborn children. Multiple births arising from a single pregnancy are counted as one maternity or paternity. The number of maternities (and paternities) is therefore less than the total number of live births and stillbirths. Maternity figures are derived from the live and stillbirth records collected through the births registration system

Data Collection

Data on live births are collected through the births registration system. This is a service carried out by the Local Registration Service in partnership with the General Register Office (GRO) in Southport. 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. Some registration districts now use the Registration online (RON) system while others currently use the Registration Service Software (RSS).

Details Collected

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. Other statistical information collected at registration includes the economic activity of the parents, such as industry and employment status, and whether the confinement resulted in a multiple birth. For live births, details of the birth weight are notified to the local health authority and are then supplied to the registrar.

For stillbirths, details of cause of death, duration of pregnancy and weight of foetus are supplied on a certificate or notification by the doctor or midwife either present at the birth, or who examined the body.

Data Quality

The accuracy of information contained in the draft birth entry is the responsibility of the informant(s) and in general this information is believed to be correct. Computerised internal consistency checks are applied to each record to eliminate, as far as possible, errors made in the supply and recording of information on births. With the introduction of RON it has become possible to carry out some additional validation checks at the point of registration, for example, validation of address and postcode.

Under the Population Statistics Act certain data items are collected at the registration of a birth (detailed above). 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 the annual volume FM1 Birth statistics.

Since the dataset for the 2000 FM1 Birth statistics volume, a small number of very late registrations have been excluded each year from the official statistics. Inclusion of these very late registrations in the statistical dataset was found to have an adverse effect on the quality of infant mortality data when linked with the live birth data. The annual dataset now includes only those births occurring in the reference year, and late registrations of births occurring in the year previous to the reference year.

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-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 yearly publications produced by ONS for a variety of topics (for example, FM1 for Birth statistics).

  • Average family size

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

  • 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

    ONS 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.

  • General Fertility Rate (GFR)

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

  • General Household Survey (GHS)

    The GHS is 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 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 ONS publication that covers mortality and health information, including articles and reports on conceptions.

  • Imputation

    A method used to add information to an incomplete birth 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 birth

    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

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

  • 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.

  • OPCS

    Office of Population Censuses and Surveys - joined with Central Statistical Office in 1996 to become ONS.

  • 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 (PSA)

    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 ONS publication that covers population and demographic information, including articles and reports on births.

  • Ratio

    A measure of the relative size of two variables expressed as a proportion.

  • 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 Registration online (see 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 age 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 Office for National Statistics Segensworth Road Titchfield Fareham PO15 5RR

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