210 babies born to girls under age of consent

More than 210 schoolgirls below the age of consent gave birth to babies last year, it emerged today.

Official figures showed one of 65 girls aged 15 or under was married when she became a mother while eight others were living with a partner.

A further 148 newborns were delivered to 16-year-olds.

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency said there is support for young girls who have an unplanned baby.

“Although Ireland has a relatively low rate of teen pregnancy, it is an issue,” said Director Caroline Spillane.

“That is why it is so important for parents to talk to their children about relationships and sex, as they play the central role in educating their children on the subject.

“The Agency has developed a suite of resources to assist parents in talking to their children about relationships and sexual health.”

While almost 2,500 teenagers gave birth in 2007, the average age for a first time mother was 28.8 years.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed some 70,620 babies were born in 2007, the highest number since 1982.

Around 33% were delivered outside marriage and just over half of those births were to cohabiting parents.

Almost a third of all unmarried mothers were aged over 30.

Ms Spillane added that information and counselling was also available nationwide to anyone, regardless of their age, who experiences a crisis pregnancy.

The fertility rate also rose slightly last year with women having more than two children for the first time in 16 years.

Overall, one in nine women aged in their thirties and one in 15 in their twenties had a baby.

Elsewhere the CSO vital statistics yearly summary recorded 28,050 deaths in 2007, with more than three in every four from either cardiovascular disease (35%), cancer (28%), or disease of the respiratory system (13%).

The infant death rate halved over the last decade with 221 babies under the age of one dying.

A total of 460 suicides were also recorded, with four times more men than women taking their own lives.

Meanwhile 22,544 marriages registered during the year, with 3,684 divorces granted by the courts, 1,185 separations registered, and 28 marriages annulled.

The population stood at 4.3 million.

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