Department statistics shed light on nation’s children

LOUTH has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the country according to a new report into teenagers in Ireland.

LOUTH has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the country according to a new report into teenagers in Ireland.

Figures reveal that 9 of every 1,000 births in Louth are to teenage mothers, the highest in the State – that’s according to the State of the Nation’s Children: Ireland 2012, which has just been published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The figures also showed that teenage drinking was lowest in the Border region, which encompasses Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

20.7 per cent of children in Louth are living in a lone parent house, compared to a national rate of 18.3.

The figures also show that 6.1 percent of children in Louth have mothers have with no formal education or primary education only, the third highest percentage in the State. This compares to a national average of 4.9 per cent.

Louth has nearly exactly the national average rate of foreign children, with 82.1 per 1,000, compared to a rate of 82.5 nationally.

The rate of disability among Louth children is lower then the national average, with a rate of 50.1 compared to a national average of 57.8 per 1,000.

Just 4.2 per cent of Louth children provided regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability, compared to a national average of 5.6, and as much 8.2 in Leitrim.

12.3 per cent of Louth children were absent from school for 20 or more during the school year, compared to an average of 10.9 nationally.

Figures also show that nationally smoking and drinking are down among teenagers.

The report says: “The percentage of children aged 10-17 who report never smoking has increased from 50.8 per cent in 1998 to 73.5 per cent in 2010.”

The reoort also shows that the rates of smoking among children in the Travellers community and among children with disabilities and who are poor are higher then average.

The report indicated that in 2011, there were 1,148,687 children in Ireland, accounting for 25% of the population and that the number of children in Ireland increased by 13.4% between 2002 and 2011. Ireland now has the highest proportion of children of any EU country.

6.1 per cent of children born in Louth weighed under 2500grams, compared to a national average of 5.4 per cent.

46 per cent of Louth babies were breastfed to some extent in 2011, compared to a national average of 55 per cent.

8.7 per cent of Louth children were registered as having an intellectual disability in 2011, compared to 7.7 per cent nationally.

6 per cent of Louth children were registered as having a physical or sensory disability, compared to 7 per cent across the State.

In Louth 4.3 per cent of households with children were identified as being in need of social housing.

Nationally smoking and drinking is down among Irish teenagers, while girls remain more vulnerable than boys to obesity, according to the report.

“The percentage of children aged 10-17 who report never smoking has increased from 50.8 per cent in 1998 to 73.5 per cent in 2010,” it says.

However, Traveller children, those with disabilities or chronic illness and poor children are more likely to smoke and drink.

The proportion of Traveller 10- to 17-year-olds who smoke in 2010 is 58 per cent; of immigrant it is 74.2 per cent; of children with disabilities it is 70.3 per cent; and of children in the poorest social classes five and six it is 70 per cent.

The proportion of 10- to 17-year-olds who had been drunk at least once in the last 30 days fell from 20 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2010.

However, 34 per cent of Travellers aged 10 to 17 had been drunk in the past month, 21 per cent of those with disability or chronic illness, and 19 per cent in the poorest social classes.