WOMEN under 30 are having babies at a record low rate, new figures show.
Overall, mums now have an average of 1.65 children, continuing a steady decline from the 1.94 recorded in 2012.
And the mean age of women giving birth has risen to 30.7 years, compared with 26.4 years back in 1973.
The only age group in which births are increasing is the over-40s, revealed the Office for National Statistics.
It said couples delaying starting a family may have contributed to the overall fall in births, because fertility decreases in later life.
But Clare Murphy, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: ‘The increasing age of motherhood is a reflection of improved gender parity, especially greater female participation in higher education and the workplace.’
She added financial factors also ‘weigh heavily on family planning’.
The birth rate for the over-40s was 16.5 per 1,000 women last year, the ONS figures for England and Wales show. That is still dwarfed by figures of 104.7 among 30- to 34-year-olds and 88.3 among 25- to 29-year-olds.
But the birth rate in every age group under 30 was the lowest since records began in 1938.