There was a 7.6 per cent rise in the number of births registered in the Republic during the first three months of 2011, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Overall, 19,950 births were officially registered in the first quarter, the highest number since records began in 1960.
Of the births recorded, 10,221 were boys and 9,729 girls.
The annual birth rate stood at 17.8 per 1,000 population at the end of the first quarter, compared to 16.6 for the same period a year earlier and 15.6 per 1,000 population in the first quarter of 2002.
Some 40.3 per cent of all births recorded in the period January to March were to first-time mothers.
The average age of mothers giving birth was 31.7 years, up 0.3 years on the same quarter last year. The average age of first-time mothers was 29.7 years.
Of the 19,950 births registered in the first quarter, there were 6,768 births registered as outside marriage. This accounted for 34 per cent of all births.
There were 7,651 deaths registered in the first three months of 2011, an increase of 1.2 per cent compared to the same quarter a year earlier.
The death rate stood at 6.8 per 1,000 population, the same rate as in the corresponding quarter in 2010.
There were 67 infant deaths registered in the first quarter, giving an infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Some 58 neonatal deaths were recorded.
Some 6,089 deaths involving people aged 65 and over were noted, giving an annual death rate of 47.8 per 1,000 population aged 65 and over.
More than one-third of all deaths in the quarter were attributed to circulatory disease, while 28 per cent were due to cancers, 13 per cent to respiratory diseases and 5 per cent to external causes.
Among young adults aged between 15 years and 34 years, external causes of death including accidents, suicide and others ranked first.
Ninety-five suicides were reported, while a further 263 deaths were attributed to accidents or other external causes.
The natural increase in the population (births minus deaths) for the first quarter was 12,299. This represents a rate of 11.0 per 1,000 population, 1.2 above the same three-month period in 2010.
There were 3,052 marriages registered in the period January to March, 329 fewer than the same quarter a year earlier.
The estimated population in April 2010 was 4,470,700.