The number of babies born in Japan is set to drop to a record low for seven straight years in 2022, falling below 800,000 for the first time since the government started compiling statistics on births in 1899, data released by the health ministry showed Tuesday.

As the prolonged coronavirus pandemic has continued to cause women to delay plans to become pregnant due to economic reasons and health concerns, the total number of births from January to October fell 4.8% from the same period a year earlier to 669,871, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's preliminary data showed.

Unless trends change this year, the annual total of newborns in the world's third-largest economy is on track to hit around 770,000, compared to last year's 811,604.