The number of newborns in South Korea is estimated to have fallen by 12 percent last year.

According to combined data from Statistics Korea and Korea Population, Health and Welfare Association, a tentatively estimated 358-thousand-384 children were born in 2017.

The figure is down 48-thousand births compared to 2016 and falls short of the 360-thousand projected by the government last year.

The statistics agency's official figure of newborns for last year will be released later this month.

Births have steadily declined from 634-thousand-500 in 2000 to 492-thousand-100 in 2002 and have since dropped to 406-thousand-200 in 2016.

The percentage of decline has recorded double-digits for ten months since December 2016.