British Columbians are living longer, women are waiting until they’re older to have children and cancer remains the leading killer in the province, according to data made public Sunday.
The B.C. Vital Statistics Agency released the 140th edition of its annual report that outlines important numbers on births, deaths and marriages.
Data from 2011 show that life expectancy climbed to 82 years, up from 81.7, and that more women older than 35 are having children.
While the total number of deaths rose to 31,776, the province’s population grew naturally by 12,215 people, without considering migration.
“The number of births in B.C. is growing and British Columbians also enjoy the longest life expectancy in Canada,” Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said in a statement.
The report helps the provincial government develop plans for health research and education. Figures show that cancer remains the leading cause of death, while deaths due to HIV-AIDS fell to 59 in 2011 from 253 in 1996.
The number of women having their first child was up by more than 1,000, compared with five years before. In 2006, a total of 19,134 women in B.C. gave birth for the first time. That number increased to 20,307 in 2011.
While the number of first-born births have increased, so has the average age of mothers having their first child.
Data from 2006 show that 6,116 women had their first child between the ages of 14 and 25. That compares with 5,281 in 2011.
Among women between 26 and 44, a total of 14,977 had their first born in 2011, up from the 12,981 in 2006.
Also, women 35 and older are having more babies than in previous years. Since 2002, the number of older mothers having children increased by 30.8 per cent, according to the report.
The number of midwife-assisted births has increased every year for both home and hospital births.
Midwives attended 2,053 hospital births and 647 home births in 2007, compared with 3,791 hospital and 1,057 home births in 2011.
The report says the most popular names selected for boys in 2011 were Liam, Ethan, Mason, Lucas and Benjamin. For girls, the names Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava and Chloe won out.
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