A record number of babies have been born at the Northern Hospital in the past 12 months.

The number of births at the Epping hospital has almost doubled in the space of five years – from 2352 births in the 2010-11 financial year to 3420 in the financial year just ended, an increase of more than 45 per cent.

Northern Health chief executive officer Janet Crompton said the jump reflected massive population growth in the outer northern suburbs.

“Northern Health is situated in a rapidly growing community,” she said.

“We are predicting an eight per cent growth in maternity over the next 12 months.”

Each year for the past five financial years, the hospital has witnessed average increases of almost 10 per cent in the number of children born.

According to Whittlesea council’s latest growth statistics bulletin, in 2014 the estimated residential population grew by 8130 people, or 156 people each week.

The council’s population forecast predicts high growth in the next two years, with an average increase of 8228 people each year until 2017.

Northern Hospital’s record closely follows the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest population figures that show South Morang is the fastest-growing suburb in the nation.

In the year to June, 2013, 80 people a week moved into South Morang.

Whittlesea is the third-largest and fastest- growing local government area in Victoria, behind Melbourne and Wyndham, according to ABS statistics.

Sarah Stewart, of the Australian College of Midwives, said Northern Hospital’s growth in births was to be expected.

“The area is attracting more and more young people so it’s only natural that birth rates in the area spike,” said Ms Stewart, who has been a midwife for more than 30 years.

Westpac’s 2015 First Home Buyers report (full story on page 3) reveals that Epping is the ninth-most-popular suburb for first-home buyers in the state.

The bank’s head of retail and banking products and services, Andy Kerr, said the federal government’s First Home Owners Grant scheme, which offers $15,000 to people purchasing new homes, was attracting young couples and families to the new housing estates in the northern growth corridor.