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National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2005

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National Vital Statistics System—Natality (NVSS-N)


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Mode of Administration

Administrative records (birth certificates) completed by physicians and midwives are filed with State vital statistics offices; selected statistical information is forwarded to NCHS to be merged into a national statistical file. Beginning with 1989, revised standard certificates replaced the 1978 versions; implementation of the next scheduled revision, for 2003, is being phased in by the States. Demographic information on the birth certificate is provided by the informant, usually the mother; maternal and infant health information is provided by the physician.

Survey Sample Design

NVSS natality files include data for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. All births occurring in those areas are included (approximately 4 million annually).

Primary Survey Content

Demographic items collected include year of birth, place of mother's residence, place birth occurred, age of mother and of father, day of week and month of birth, Hispanic origin and race of mother and of father, marital status of mother, place of birth (i.e., State or country) of mother and of father, educational attainment of mother, sex of child, and live-birth order. Maternal and infant health information is collected, including month prenatal care began, number of prenatal visits, medical risk factors, tobacco use, alcohol use, maternal weight gain, obstetric procedures, attendant at birth, method of delivery, place of delivery, complications of labor and/or delivery, period of gestation, birthweight, Apgar score, abnormal conditions of newborn, congenital anomalies, and plurality.

Population Targeted

The U.S. population.

Demographic Data

Sex of child, race of mother and of father, Hispanic origin (beginning in 1978) of mother and of father, age of mother and of father, place of mother's residence, educational attainment of mother and of father (beginning in 1978) (education of father not currently collected), and marital status of mother. Race and Hispanic origin are separate items on the birth certificate. Beginning with 1992 data, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington reported expanded Asian and Pacific Islander (API) categories of Asian Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Guamanian. Eleven States currently collect expanded API categories. The rest of the States report a combined Other Asian and Pacific Islander category in addition to the categories of White, Black, American Indian, Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Filipino that all States report. As of 1993, all States report Hispanic origin. The categories reported include Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, and Other Hispanic. Birth and fertility rates by race and Hispanic origin for the 1990s through 2001 have been revised and published, using populations consistent with the 2000 census.

Years Collected

The national birth registration system was established in 1915. Not all States participated before 1933. Coverage for births has been complete since 1933.



Geographic Estimates

National, regional, State, and county; also cities of 100,000 population or more. Beginning with 1989 data, some changes were initiated to increase confidentiality protection. Identifying information, including geographic identifiers for counties of less than 100,000 persons, is not available for public use.

Contact Information

Agency homepage:

Data system homepage:


Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Menacker F, Munson ML. Births: Final Data for 2002. National vital statistics reports; vol. 52 no. 10. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2003.

Hamilton BE, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ. Revised Birth and Fertility Rates for the 1990s and New Rates for Hispanic Populations, 2000 and 2001: United States. National vital statistics reports; vol. 51 no. 12. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2003.

Sutton PD and Mathews TJ. Trends in Characteristics of Births by State: United States, 1990, 1995, and 2000–2002. National vital statistics reports; vol. 52 no. 19. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2004.



The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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