There were 624,828 live births registered in England and Wales in 2021, up 1.8% from 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It is the first annual increase in live births since 2015, although this remains below the number of births registered in 2019.
And the latest year “remains in line” with the long-term trend of falling live births since before the coronavirus pandemic, the ONS said.
Latest data on births in England and Wales in 2021 https://t.co/ieP7HXffdk
There were 624,828 live births in England and Wales in 2021 up from 613,936 in 2020 but still below 2019 figure (657,076). pic.twitter.com/C9UWexbq15
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) August 9, 2022
The total fertility rate increased to 1.61 children per woman in 2021 from 1.58 in 2020 – the first time it has risen since 2012.
This is the average number of live children that a woman would bear if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of 2021 throughout their childbearing years.
The 2021 total fertility rate still remained below the rate observed in 2019.
The ONS figures are based on birth registrations, and delays mean some births in 2021 may not be covered.
It follows provisional data, based on NHS births notifications data, published by the ONS in March.
Within the overall increase in fertility, rates fell among younger groups and rose in older women.
The largest decrease was among women and girls under 20 years old (16%), while women aged 35 to 39 saw fertility rates increase by 5%.
Fertility rates increased across all regions of England in 2021, except for London and the West Midlands.
The figures also show there were 2,597 stillbirths in 2021, an increase of 226 from 2020.
Of the total number of live births in 2021, 445,055 were to UK-born women, 179,726 were to non-UK-born women, and in 47 births the country of the mother was not stated.
The percentage of live births to non-UK-born women decreased to 28.8% in 2021 from 29.3% in 2020.
This was similar to the percentage in 2019 and the result of a higher number of UK-born women giving birth.
Romania became the most common country of birth for non-UK-born mothers in 2021, while Pakistan remained the most common country of birth for non-UK-born fathers.