BEIJING, July 15 (Xinhua) -- A total of 17.58 million new babies were born in Chinese hospitals in 2017, according to figures released by the National Health Commission.
About 51 percent of the newborns were not the first child in their families, said the commission.
In response to a rapidly aging population, China allowed married couples to have two children from 2016, ending its decades-long one-child policy.
The maternal mortality rate dropped to 19.6 per 100,000 births while the infant mortality rate decreased to 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017.
China also offered free pre-pregnancy health examinations to 11.73 million people nationwide in 2017, in an effort to reduce birth defect risks.