As many as one in 40 babies is born with a birth defect in England and Wales, according to the most comprehensive study of the issue to date.
The most common anomalies are congenital heart defects, which affect at least six in every 1,000 babies.
Those suffering heart problems can require major surgery, and around 6 percent of babies with a heart defect die before their first birthday.
The report, by researchers at Queen Mary University of London in conjunction with theBritish Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers, collated data from six regional registers, giving a national coverage of 36% of all births.
Researchers then provided estimates to flesh out the other regions of England and Wales.
A baby girl was delivered in just six minutes by her father, as he took instructions from ambulance staff over the phone.
Liz Turner went into advanced labour at home on June 1, leaving no time to get to hospital or for a midwife to arrive.
Simon Turner rang 999 at 4.27pm when he realised the baby's arrival was imminent. Emma was born at 4.33pm.
Mr and Mrs Turner met Felicity McKeegan, the call handler for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust who talked him through the delivery, to thank her for her help.
- 1879 The heaviest baby ever born was in Canada and weighed 23lb 12oz. But the mother, Anna Bates who had giantism, died 11 hours later.
- 1955 A baby boy who weighed 22lbs 8oz was born in Aversa, Italy.
- 2013 George Joseph King weighed 15lb 7oz when he was born naturally in Gloucester in February.
A British mother has given birth to the biggest ever baby born naturally in Spain, a hospital has said.
Maxime Marin, 40, delivered the baby girl who weighed 13lb 7oz - around twice the size of an average baby - without an epidural.
Newborn Maria Lorena is "in perfect health", said a spokesperson from Hospital Marina Salud in the south-eastern city of Denia.
Dr. Javier Rius, the chief of gynecology at the hospital, said in his 40 years of practice he had never known a baby born naturally to weigh so much.
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British midwives have been urged to volunteer to train African nurses to deliver babies in a bid to reduce the number of women and children who die in childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Every year 350,000 women die in childbirth across the globe, with the majority of the deaths taking place in developing countries, volunteer organisation VSO said.VSO's UK director, Angela Salt, said many lives could be saved if health workers in developing countries were given better training.
"I urge experienced midwives, senior trainee doctors and nurses to consider volunteering," she said. "You could help hospital staff identify solutions to problems, train new students or work in health ministries in countries with the greatest need, such as Sierra Leone, Malawi and Ethiopia."
Just over half (53%) of all babies registered in 2011 were born to parents who were married or in a civil partnership, according to figures from the ONS.
The figure is a substantial drop from 1986 when the proportion was closer to 80%.
However, the number of births registered by sole parents (almost 6%) has fallen since 2001 while more parents are co-habiting (31%).
The average age of mothers in England and Wales in 2011 was 29.7 years, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics. The average age of first-time mothers was 27.9.
Nearly half of all births in 2011 (49%) were to mothers over the age of 30, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
For fathers, nearly two-thirds (65%) were over the age of 30.
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