Number of childless women in their 40s doubles to one in five

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One in five women in their mid-40s is childless – compared to one in 10 of their mothers’ generation, new data shows.

Some 19 per cent of women born in 1967 did not have children by their 45th birthday, compared with 11 per cent of women born in 1940.

The new 2012 data, from the Office for National Statistics, also reveals that women now have 1.91 children on average, compared to 2.36 among their mothers’ generation.

One in 10 women born in 1967 had four or more children, as did almost one in five women born in 1940.

Women born in 1982 have had slightly fewer children on average (1.02) by their 30th birthday than women born in 1967, who had 1.16 children by the same age.

The data, which covers England and Wales, also showed that 383,189 live births in 2012 occurred within either a marriage or a civil partnership, compared to 346,485 that were outside marriage.

Of this last group, 304,606 births were registered by both the mother and father.

Separate research showed the number of teenage births in England has fallen eight per cent in the last year.

Data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed there were 30,790 teenage deliveries in 2012-13, down 8.4 per cent on 33,620 in 2011-12.

The centre said the latest figures represented a “substantial fall” of 28 per cent on teenage deliveries in 2007-8, when there were 42,670.

The report shows there were 671,260 deliveries in NHS hospitals overall, with Caesarean section rates rising slightly to 25.5 per cent – from 25 per cent last year and 24.6 per cent five years ago.

More babies are also born to women in the most deprived areas, with a birth rate of 37.2 per 1,000 compared with 18.6 per 1,000 in the least deprived areas.

Among teenage mothers, the figure is 31.1 births per 1,000 teenage girls in the most deprived areas compared with 3.6 per 1,000 in the least deprived – almost a 10-fold difference

The North East saw the highest rate of teenage births, while the lowest was in London.

Meanwhile a charity has warned that women in their 30s and 40s are at increased risk of unplanned pregnancy over Christmas.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) saw a spike in January and February this year in the number of women over 30 seeking help and advice for an unplanned pregnancy.

Almost 4,000 women said they needed help in these months, including an average of 13 women aged over 40 every working day.

This is a 10 per cent rise on the figures for March and April and represents the busiest time of the year for this age group to seek help, Bpas said. More than 80 per cent of the over-30s needing advice are already mothers, with many telling Bpas they had neglected sorting out contraception as they prepared for Christmas.

Some women in their 30s and 40s believe they are at low risk of an unplanned pregnancy due to declining fertility, Bpas said, as it warned that emergency contraception may be more difficult to obtain over Christmas.

Office for National Statistics figures show that September and October is the busiest period in the year for births, as a result of conceptions over December and January.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of Bpas, said: “Seasonal safe-sex messages tend to involve raucous parties and office stationery cupboards.

“In fact, the reality is often more mundane – many of the women we see are busy mums who have been run off their feet and have forgotten to pick up contraception supplies or missed a pill.”