Nordic perinatal statistics 2020

Cesarean section has become more common in the Nordic countries in recent decades, during the last years especially in Finland and Sweden

In 2020 some 280 000 children were born in the Nordic countries, showing a slight decrease compared to 2019 (-0.9%). The number of live born babies decreased slightly in Norway and Sweden, remained stable in Denmark and Iceland and increased slightly in Finland. However, Finland total fertility rate was still the lowest in the Nordic countries. Iceland’s and Sweden’s total fertility rate was still among the highest in Europe. 

In the Nordic countries, women give birth at a higher age than previously, and the mean age of parturients has risen in all the Nordic countries. The proportion of parturients aged 35 and over has increased considerably in all the Nordic countries since the 1980s. In recent years the proportion has increased especially in Finland and Norway. In 2020, the proportion was the highest in Finland (24.8%) and the lowest in Iceland (19.6%).

Caesarean sections became more common in the Nordic countries over the past four decades. The increase has been highest in Denmark and Norway, while in Finland, the increase has been more moderate, but the baseline was higher. In 2020, Denmark (19.6%) had the highest proportion of caesarean sections and Norway (15.8%) the lowest. At the turn of the century, these proportions in the Nordic countries were similar but the differences between the countries have increased since then. In Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the proportion of planned caesarean sections is higher (8%) than in Norway and Iceland (5–6%).

In all Nordic countries, the proportion of caesarean sections is higher for primiparas than for parturients with prior deliveries. In 2020 the proportion for primiparas was the highest in Finland (23.2%) and the lowest in Iceland (16.5%).

Maternity hospitals have been closed during the last ten years in all Nordic countries. Denmark and Sweden have most births per maternity hospital. The number of births per hospital has increased in all the Nordic countries during the last ten years. 

Download the statistical report

Caesarean sections of all deliveries 1975–2020, %

Caesarean sections became more common in the Nordic countries over the past four decades.

Tables and figures

Background information

Description of statistics

The statistics contain data on perinatal health in the Nordic countries. Key indicators include number of deliveries and newborns, perinatal mortality, parturient age and weight at birth. All data are presented by country.

The statistics are published every other year. The next statistics will be published in spring 2024, and the report will contain data up to 2022.

The Association for Nordic Medical Birth Registers (NOMBIR) is responsible for developing the statistics. THL answers for the data collection and reporting. The presented figures have been submitted by contact persons in the countries or retrieved from the websites for medical birth registers.


Pohjoismaiset perinataalitilastot 2020
Nordisk perinatal statistik 2020
Perinatal statistics in the Nordic countries 2020

Statistical Report 11/2022, 12th April 2022.
Official Statistics of Finland, Nordic perinatal statistics. THL. OSF-logo

More information

Anna Heino
Tel. +358 29 524 7177

Mika Gissler
Tel. +358 29 524 7279

E-mail address: [email protected]

Quality description

Sotkanet Statistics and Indicator Bank

On other websites

Nordic Medico-Statistical Comittee (NOMESKO)
Nordic statistics on health and reproduction

Eurostat database
European statistics on health and reproduction