About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on pregnancy, childbirth and the early care of babies born in Scotland. The health of a pregnant woman and her baby are closely linked and are influenced by a number of different factors during pregnancy, childbirth and the early period after birth. These include the mother’s age, social and economic circumstances, her previous and current health and health related behaviours and the medical care provided.

The annual publication that this is the most recent release of was previously titled Births in Scottish Hospitals. Since it now includes births which took place out of hospital it has been renamed Births in Scotland.

Main points

In 2021/22:

  • Maternal obesity continued to increase. Of those with a known BMI, the proportion recorded as overweight or obese was the highest since reporting began (56.9%). This increasing trend can be seen across all maternal age groups and levels of deprivation.

Proportion of women giving birth who were overweight or obese, by age, year ending 31 March

This chart shows the proportion of women who were overweight or obese at booking between 2010/11 and 2021/22.
  • Maternal age has continued to steadily rise: 59% of women were 30 years or older at the time of giving birth, which is the highest proportion since reporting began.
  • Caesarean sections continued to increase with over one in three (37.6%) live singleton babies delivered this way, which is the highest proportion since reporting began. While older women are more likely to have a caesarean section, there is an increasing tendency for this method of delivery across all age groups.
  • Deprivation continued to influence the health of pregnant women and babies across Scotland. Women from deprived areas were generally more likely to have a first birth at a younger age, be overweight or obese, to deliver their babies early and to have a low birthweight baby compared to those from less deprived areas.
  • A greater than average proportion of African (67.2%) and Caribbean and Black (70.4%) women giving birth were overweight or obese. However, women giving birth from these ethnic groups were also more likely to be living in the most deprived areas (48.6% and 45.5% respectively).


The data presented are mainly obtained from the  Scottish Morbidity Record 02 (SMR02). An SMR02 record is submitted by maternity hospitals to PHS whenever a woman is discharged from an episode of day case or inpatient maternity care. Comparison of SMR02 with the number of births registered by National Records of Scotland (NRS) confirms the high completeness of SMR02. This data source provides an additional richness of demographic and clinical information associated with the mother and baby which are not collected by NRS. Data on neonatal discharges and level of neonatal care required are derived from the Scottish Birth Record (SBR).

Further information

Open data from this publication is available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform.

The next release of this publication will be November 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email .

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
Was this page helpful?