The number of child baptisms has fallen from 458,626 in 1990, to 378,395 in 1999, according to data published today by the National Catechumenal Service.
Overall, baptisms have fallen from 472,130 in 1990, to 400,327 in 1999, the latest year for which statistics are available.
This contrasts with the growth in adult baptisms, said Monsignor André Dupleix, director of the catechumenal service, said at a press conference.
This year, 43% of adults who have requested baptism come from families of Christian culture, and 42% from families without religion. About 5% are converts from Islam, 5% from Eastern religions, 2% from mixed traditions, 2% from sects, and 1% from Judaism.
Most of the candidates are young (84% are under 40), and the majority are women (71%). Adults who request baptism in the Catholic Church follow a specific catechumenal course lasting some two years.