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The BBC's Daniel Sandford reports
"The number of babies born was well above average"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 05:12 GMT
Millennium baby battle

Mark Heafield and Alison Webb with their new baby

Competition is fierce for the title of the UK's first baby of the millennium, with both Birmingham and London staking a claim.

Into 2000
In Birmingham, the baby's head is said to have emerged as the midnight chimes began to sound, and the natural delivery was completed at just 15 seconds past the hour.

"The midwives were all listening to the chimes of Big Ben and by the time the last gong sounded they could hear the baby crying," a spokesman for Birmingham Women's Hospital said.

The parents, Alison Webb, 28 and Mark Heafield, 40, are reported to have already been offered a large sum of money by a national newspaper for exclusive pictures of the child.

Millennium births
An 18-year-old woman who gave birth to a baby girl in an ambulance on the way to Leicester Royal Infirmary at 00 46 on 1 January did not even know she was pregnant
Willow Langdale-Smith gave birth to a son, Sacha, 35 minutes into the new millennium at Lincoln County Hospital. The midwife who delivered him, Sister Sandy Blow, delivered his mother 19 years ago

However, the Birmingham claim is matched or perhaps even bettered by a second baby, born at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London.

Baby Tamera was initially given a time of 20 seconds after midnight, but five seconds has since been shaved off after the timing was checked.

She was born on the fourth chime of Big Ben, say midwives - 15 seconds after midnight.

Tamera's mother, Monstrat Abomide, 29, comes from East Finchley.

Ms Abomide said: "I just couldn't believe it when the baby was born so soon after Big Ben had chimed midnight."

Five under a minute

These two would narrowly pip three others in the UK if the timing is confirmed.

In Norfolk, Nicki Pratt, of Great Yarmouth, gave birth to her 8lb 14oz daughter Chloe Marie by emergency Caesarean section at James Padget Hospital at 25 seconds past midnight.

A hospital spokeswoman said: "It was planned that she would have a Caesarean section.

"But there were some niggles in her labour so they decided it was necessary to carry out an emergency procedure.

"The baby is well. She is a beautiful baby and mother is recovering although she is a little bemused by everything."

Monstrat Abomide and baby Tamera
At 30 seconds past midnight, Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry was the venue for a baby boy born to Claire and Brian Doherty, from Newtownstewart.

Mr Doherty told the BBC: "We're still in shock - we weren't trying for a millennium baby."

The fifth baby born within a minute came 40 seconds after midnight in Poole General Hospital, Dorset .

Parents Natasha and Jay Cooper, who are from Reading, were on holiday at the time. The new-born is a boy weighing 8lb, 5oz.

Welsh first

A contender for Wales' first baby of the new millennium was born at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny in south Wales at five past midnight.

First in Scotland: Joanne McConville and her new son Daniel
No more details of the boy's birth will be available until later today, according to a spokesman.

Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen was the location for another birth, at 10 minutes past.

Cerys Lewis weighed seven pounds six ounces. Her mother, Edwina Lewis, lives at Llanybydder, near Lampeter.

Scotland's first is thought to have arrived in Glasgow.

A baby boy was born four minutes into the new century in the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital. Joanne McConville and her new son Daniel, who weighed in at 6lb 15oz, were both doing well, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Daniel was closely followed by the first of two twin girls was born five minutes after midnight in Dundee.

Synchronise clocks

The importance of correctly identifying the millennium baby has even troubled the Department of Health.

They issued instructions that the clocks in maternity wards should be synchronised before the big night to eliminate false claims.

One of the last babies of the 20th century was born at the Royal Shrewsbury hospital in Shropshire.

The little girl was delivered at three minutes to midnight.

In Berlin, twin boys were born on opposite sides of the new millennium.

The 25-year-old mother, a Bulgarian, first gave birth to Mircem, four minutes before the end of 1999 at St Joseph's Hospital.

A minute into New Year's Day, his brother Mircan followed.

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