MARRIED mums still make up the majority of women giving birth in Bournemouth, but only just.

The latest figures reveal that 47 per cent of the 2,180 babies born across the town in 2016 had parents who were not married or in a civil partnership when the birth was registered, a slight increase on the previous year.

Across the country 52 per cent of babies had parents in a legally recognised relationship, meaning the borough's parents had a slightly higher than average tendency to be married before having children, at 53 per cent.

The data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), based on local authority records, shows that across the country cohabiting couples with children are becoming more prevalent.

When counted alongside those who are married or in a civil partnership, 88 per cent of babies born in Bournemouth in 2016 had a family setting that included two parents at home.

Only 100 children were registered by their mother alone in the area, with no record of the father.

A further 165 babies had parents who were recorded as living at different addresses.

Together these children made up 12 per cent of all the babies born in the area last year.

ONS statistician Nicola Haines said: "Our data show that the overwhelming majority of births are registered jointly by two parents.

"Over the last 30 years, the percentage of babies born to parents who are married or in a civil partnership has decreased notably from 79 per cent in 1986 to 52 per cent in 2016.

"Despite this, the percentage of babies born to parents who were either married, in a civil partnership or living together, has only declined slightly from 89 per cent in 1986 to 84 per cent in 2016 - a consequence of cohabitation becoming more popular as an alternative or precursor to marriage."

She said the percentage of babies nationally which have been solely registered by the mother has decreased from 7.9 per cent in 1998 to 5.2 per cent last year, and is at its lowest level since 1980.