Number of centenarians in the UK drops because of low birth rates during World War I

102-year-old Elizabeth McLaughlin who lives in Glasgow was born in 1917 during World War I (SWNS)

They’ve lived through 25 Prime Ministers, four monarchs and two London Olympic Games.

But the number of people aged 100 or older in the UK is decreasing thanks to low birth rates during World War I.

There were 13,170 centenarians live in the UK in 2018, according to figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This represents a decrease of 5% from the previous year.

Birth rates in Britain dropped significantly during WWI, before spiking in the latter half of 1919, approximately nine months after soldiers returned at the end of the war in November 1918.

45.4% more babies were born across the UK between mid-1919 and mid-1920 than in the year before.

Birth rates remained high in 1921, and the ONS predicts a large increase in the number of centenarians in Britain from mid-2020.

Elizabeth McLaughlin celebrated her 100th birthday in 2017 with her son and seven daughters, 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren at Christ the King Parish Hall in Glasgow. (SWNS)

Elizabeth McLaughin, 102, was born in 1917 during World War I in Glasgow.

She celebrated her 100th birthday in 2017 after her eight children travelled from England, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and Italy to mark the day.

Elizabeth said her secret to a long life was to “keep breathing”.

Elizabeth's daughter, Bernadette Cooklin, said: "The reason is that she always has family around her and it is constantly changing with new generations coming along. She is never alone."

Winifred Burgoyne, 108, was born the same year the Titanic was launched (SWNS)

Winifred Burgoyne, 108, is one of the oldest people in the UK and was born in the same year the Titanic was launched.

As she celebrated her 108th in September 109 birthday Winifred recalled some of her most distinct memories, including meeting her husband Ronald, who was in the RAF, at a dance in the mid-1940s, after noticing his "gorgeous uniform".

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Winifred said one of her strongest memories of the Second World War was an evening when she went to the cinema with her sister Mabel.

Shortly after the film began the room was evacuated. Winnifred and Mabel returned home to find the front door and glass windows of their house blown out as a result of bomb damage.

Speaking about the statistics Vasita Patel, of the ONS's Centre for Ageing and Demography, said: "The size of the population aged 90 years and over in the UK continued to grow in 2018 – driven by an increase in the number of men at these ages.

“The rise in the number of men has almost halved the gap between males and females in this age group compared with 25 years ago.

“However, we have seen a decrease in the number of people aged 100 years and over. This is because of the low number of births in the UK during World War I."