FEWER babies are being born to foreign-born mothers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, figures reveal.

However, there has been a slight increase in the proportion in rural Dorset.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that non-UK-born women living in the BCP Council area gave birth to 994 children in 2018 – 26.1 per cent of all deliveries.

This was down from 2017, when 26.8 per cent of births were to mothers born abroad, but an increase on 19.2 per cent a decade previously.

In the Dorset Council area non-UK-born women gave birth to 291 children in 2018 – 10.2 per cent of all deliveries.

This was just up from 2017, when 10.0 per cent of births were to mothers born abroad, and an increase on 8.4 per cent a decade previously.

Across England and Wales, the rate of births to foreign-born mothers dropped from 28.4 per cent to 28.2 per cent last year – the first fall since 1990.

Dr Marina Fernandez-Reino, a researcher at Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, said the distribution of the UK’s migrant population is very uneven.

In Brent in London, just over three-quarters of newborns had mothers born overseas, while in Copeland in the North West, the figure stood at just 3.0 per cent.

Ms Fernandez-Reino said: “Foreign-born women in the UK are more likely to be of childbearing age than women born in the UK.

“The total fertility rates of UK-born and foreign-born women are 1.63 and 1.99 respectively, both below the replacement rate – which is the average number of children that needs to be born per woman to maintain a stable population without migration.

“In general, the fertility rate of foreign-born women tends to converge with that of UK-born women as their time spent in the UK increases.”

The most common region of origin for non-UK-born mothers giving birth across the county was the EU – 549 births were to mothers born there in the BCP area and 141 in the Dorset area.

For BCP this was followed by 180 from the Middle East and Asia, 96 from Africa, 69 from European nations outside the EU, and 100 from elsewhere.

For Dorset, 65 from the Middle East and Asia, 37 from Africa, 12 from European nations outside the EU, and 36 from elsewhere.

Overall, 3,800 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole women and 2,800 Dorset women gave birth last year, a significant decrease from 2017.

Kathryn Littleboy, from the ONS, said: “Today’s figures show the first decrease in the proportion of live births in England and Wales to non-UK-born mothers since 1990, and the first decrease for non-UK-born fathers since our time series for them began in 2008.

"Poland and Pakistan remain the most common countries of birth for non-UK-born mothers and fathers respectively.

“Romania is now the second most common country of birth for non-UK-born fathers, and the third for non-UK-born mothers.”

Across England and Wales, there were around 657,000 births last year, although this includes a small number of mothers whose usual residence was elsewhere.

This was down from 679,000 the year before.