In 2017 20,800 children were born in Latvia, which is 1,100 thousand fewer than in 2016 and according to preliminary data from the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB), the number will fall short of 20,000 in 2018.
Central Statistical Bureau spokeswoman Sanda Rieksta told Latvian Radio December 31 that since 2012, the number of newborns in Latvia saw a growth trend from 2012 and reached almost 22,000 children in 2015 and 2016.
However, since then the trend has gone into reverse.
"This positive trend unfortunately stopped last year, as 1,000 children fewer were born than in 2016, and this year's preliminary data show that the number of babies will be even smaller, and will not reach even 20,000," said Rieksta.
The fall was in part explained by the shrinking number of young women reaching child-bearing age, explained Rieksta: "It is the generation born in the first half of the 1990s, and the birth rate dropped dramatically in the early 1990s. Interestingly, more boys are born each year than girls."
Negative demographic trends are seen as one of the main challenges Latvia faces in coming years, with some political parties even advocating the formation of a special ministry to tackle related issues.
At the beginning of 2018, Latvia's population stood at 1.93 million, a fall of 16,000 compared to 2017.