Women are delaying having children, with nearly half of all babies now born to mothers aged 30 or older, official figures show.
The average age of women giving birth in 2011 was 29.7, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But 49 per cent of women in England and Wales had already reached 30 when a child arrived and most newborns were likely to have a mother in her early 30s.
The last time so many babies were born to women of this age was after the Second World War, in 1946. That year, the mothers of 352,557 infants were 30 or older, as opposed to the 351,945 of 2011, according to the ONS figures.
Most babies born in England and Wales in 2010 – 207,151 – were likely to have a mother aged 30-34.
An ONS spokesman said: “In 2011, 351,945 babies were born to women aged 30 and over. This is the highest number of live births to women aged 30 and over since 1946 when there were 352,557 births to women in this age group following a rise in births after the end of the Second World War.”
The statistics found only five per cent – 36,435 – of mothers were under 20 when they gave birth.