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Several national statistics hit record levels last year as the average birthrate dropped to an all-time low of 1.38 babies per woman and the number of suicides topped 30,000 for the first time, the Health and Welfare Ministry said Friday.

A total of 1,203,149 babies were born in 1998, up 11,484 from the previous year. But the average number of babies born to women in their lifetime was lower by 0.01 compared with the previous record low of 1.39 babies set in 1997, according to ministry statistics.

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