This report presents information on pregnancy outcomes, together with descriptive social and biological characteristics of mothers giving birth and babies born in Ireland in 2002. In 2002, 60,865 births were notified to the National Perinatal Reporting System. The birth rate for 2002 is estimated at 15.5 per 1,000 population which represents a increase of 12.0 per cent since 1993. Over the decade 1993-2002, the Perinatal Mortality Rate has decreased by 3.4 per cent, the Early Neonatal Death Rate has fallen by 6.7 per cent, and the Stillbirth Rate has been reduced by 1.8 per cent. Delivery by Caesarean Section now accounts for 22 per cent of all births, which represents an 72.1 per cent increase on all births delivered by caesarean section in 1993. The average birthweight of babies born in 2002 is estimated at 3,474g. The Twinning Rate for 2002 is estimated at 14.4 per 1,000 maternities, as there were 864 twin births, 18 triplet births and 3 quadruplet births. In 2002, single mothers accounted for just over 30 per cent of all women giving birth. This represents a 65.4 per cent increase in the estimated rate of 18.1 per cent in 1993. The average age of single mothers in 2002 is 26 years. The trend in the breastfeeding rate continues to be upward at 41.1 per cent in 2002 compared to 33.9 per cent in 1993. There were 288 home births attended by independent domiciliary midwives in 2002 compared with 142 such births in 1993.
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