Ireland has the highest birth rate of any EU country, according to the latest available figures.

The birth rate in Ireland increased by 9% in 2007 compared with the previous year.

The average age of women giving birth has increased steadily from just over 30 years in 1999 to just over 31 in 2007.

The average age of women giving birth was 31.1, and 27% of women giving birth were 35 or older, up from 21% in 1999.

71,963 births were notified to the National Perinatal Reporting System in 2007.

The estimated birth rate of 16.5 per 1,000 in the population represented the highest birth rate in any of the 27 EU countries that year.

Over 1,000 sets of twins were born and 27 sets of triplets.

There was a small increase in the number of babies being born to single mothers.

Births by Caesarean section increased to 26% - compared to 20% in 1999.