Teenage births 'at record low'
The number of births by teenage mothers in Northern Ireland has fallen to the lowest level on record, it has been revealed.
Some 1,100 successful pregnancies were from adolescents, with half of all children born to mothers aged 30 or more last year, official statistics said.
Audrey Simpson, director of the Family Planning Association (FPA) in Northern Ireland, said: "I think we in Northern Ireland have been very innovative in the way we work with young people. I think that the initiatives we have been doing has been a long game and we are beginning to see the fruits of that."
She said there were good community-based programmes and teachers were being trained by the Public Health Agency.
"What we don't want is someone in the Department of Health thinking we have cracked this," she said. "We could be doing better with more sustainable funding."
Teenage birth numbers in other parts of the UK and Ireland were all going down, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said, and the drop in Northern Ireland was not down to more women from Northern Ireland going to Great Britain for abortions.
Teenage birth numbers decreased across Northern Ireland, in deprived communities as well as more affluent ones, it stated. The number of births to teenage mothers last year was 6% lower than 2011 (1,170 births) and 27% lower than a decade ago (1,502 births), the official report said.
In the last decade, the number of births to mothers aged under 17 has decreased by 26% (149 births in 2002) to 110 births last year, the figures showed. The highest ever proportion of births to unmarried parents (43%) was recorded.
More than half of all births registered last year (52%) were to mothers aged 30 or more, the report found. This contrasts with 30 years ago when less than one third of births (32%) were to mothers in this age group.
NISRA's report said: "This indicates that women are delaying child-bearing until later in life, a trend which is apparent throughout the developed world. Women may be waiting to have children for several reasons, including participation in higher education, pursuit of a career, and for financial reasons."