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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 19:03 GMT
Baby boom slows population fall
A baby
Scotland's birth rate increased between 2003 and 2004
The number of births in Scotland last year went up and the death rate fell, according to new figures.

However, Scotland's population still dropped slightly as 2,230 more people died than were born.

There were 53,957 babies born last year, a 2.9% increase on 2003, and the figure was the highest since 1999.

Meanwhile, 56,187 people died - a 4.1% drop on 2003. Heart disease was the biggest killer, claiming 20,939 lives with 15,328 dying from cancer.

The figures from the General Register Office for Scotland said there were 1,353 accidental deaths in Scotland last year, a figure on a par with previous years, and 332 from transport incidents.

The 2004 figures also recorded 711 deaths from infectious or parasitic diseases, 93 from asthma, 32 from sudden infant death syndrome and three from flu.

Other figures showed that marriages in 2004 increased by 4.5% to 32,154.

However, the number of divorces also rose by 1.8% to 11,135, the highest level since 2000.

Scotland's population was said to be 5,057,400.

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