WOMEN in Scotland are giving birth later in life than previously, new figures suggest.
Almost four in every 100 babies are now born to women aged 40 or over – compared with fewer than one in 100 in this age group 30 years ago.
The official statistics revealed that 30 is the age when most women now start having a family – but that drops to 20 in the poorest areas.
Women aged between 30 and 34 now account for 28 per cent (just more than a quarter) of all new mothers.
Those aged 35 or over now account for just under 20 per cent – up from 6 per cent in 1976.
A total of 57,165 babies were born in Scotland in 2011 – 180 fewer than in 2010.
The statistics also revealed that six in every 100 babies are born pre-term (before 37 weeks).
And the proportion of women electing to have a Caesarean section has more than doubled from 4.7 per cent in 1976 to 11.2 per cent last year.
The percentage of babies with a healthy birthweight was 90 per cent last year – virtually unchanged for a decade.