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THE VERMONT VITAL STATISTICS SYSTEM

Statewide vital registration began in Vermont in 1857, when the General Assembly passed a bill requiring that towns report all births, marriages, and deaths occurring in their jurisdiction to the Secretary of State. The legislature also required periodic publication of tables from the reports. This volume is the latest in a series of publications begun in 1857. Historically, the information contained on vital records has served as an important tool for public health officials and others by providing a picture of the general health of the population. Recognizing its importance, in 1896 the Legislature transferred responsibility for the vital statistics system to the newly formed Board of Health, the forerunner of the Vermont Department of Health. The Health Department still has this responsibility.

The current Vermont vital statistics system includes six types of vital events: births, deaths, marriages, divorces, fetal deaths, and abortions. Each type of record follows a different path before being used to produce the statistics published here.

When a birth occurs, the physician, midwife, or other birth attendant is required to complete a birth certificate and file it with the town clerk in the town of birth within 10 days. For hospital births, it is usually the medical records staff who complete the birth certificate.

Although a physician is responsible for filing the death certificate, the job may be, and often is, delegated to the funeral director. Most of the information needed to complete the death certificate is obtained from the family of the deceased. A physician, however, must complete the cause of death information and sign the death certificate. The funeral director files the completed certificate with the town clerk.

When a couple wishes to marry in Vermont, they provide a town clerk with the information needed to complete the marriage license. The couple takes the license to the officiant, who, after performing the marriage, signs and dates it, and returns it to the town clerk. When the town clerk files the license, it becomes the marriage certificate.

A lawyer or other individual handling the divorce initiates a divorce certificate. It is filed with the court as part of the divorce proceedings. The court keeps the certificate until the divorce decree becomes final, usually three months after the court hearing. When the decree is final, the court clerk signs the certificate and sends it to the Health Department for filing.

Reports of fetal death and induced termination of pregnancy (abortion) are sent directly to the Health Department. These reports are not legal records, and are for statistical use only.

Copies of all the births, deaths and marriages filed in town clerks' offices are sent to the Health Department. Also, because most analyses of vital events are based on place of residence rather than place of occurrence, the Health Department receives copies of certificates of all Vermont resident births and deaths that occur in other states and in Canada through a cooperative exchange program.

All vital records received at the Health Department are coded and entered into a computerized database. Records with unknown or unlikely data are corrected after querying the data provider. A computer tape containing statistical information from the records is sent to the National Center for Health Statistics to become part of a national database.

EXPLANATORY NOTES

1. The tables in this bulletin were derived from records of vital events filed at the Vermont Department of Health for calendar year 1998. Data presented are based on information recorded as of September 1, 1999.

2. Rates are based on the 1998 population estimates from the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont, and published in the 1998 Population and Housing Estimates.

3. Caution must be used in comparing rates due to the small population in Vermont and the small number of events recorded.

4. Rate comparisons throughout are made to the U.S. white population rather than entire U.S. population. This is because only 1.2 percent of the Vermont population was non-white as of the 1990 U.S. Census.

5. If you have questions about use of the information found in this bulletin, the staff of the Vermont Department of Health, Center for Public Health Statistics is available to help. You may request copies of the following:

How to Be a Vital Statistician, which appeared in this bulletin in previous years.

The Population and Housing Estimates, which provides information about age groups other than those presented in this bulletin.

6. The following is a list of Vermont's counties and the county abbreviations that are used in this bulletin.

Addison

ADD

Lamoille

LAM

Bennington

BEN

Orange

ORG

Caledonia

CAL

Orleans

ORL

Chittenden

CHI

Rutland

RUT

Essex

ESS

Washington

WAS

Franklin

FRA

Windham

WDM

Grand Isle

GI

Windsor

WDR

 

DEFINITIONS, RATES, AND RATIOS

ABORTION: The purposeful interruption of pregnancy with the intention other than to produce a live-born infant or other than to remove a dead fetus.

ABORTION RATE: Number of resident abortions occurring in Vermont x 1000, divided by the total resident women ages 15 to 44.

ABORTION RATIO: Number of resident abortions occurring in Vermont x 1000, divided by the total resident live births.

AGE ADJUSTMENT: Age adjusting allows one to compare rates among populations having different age distributions by adjusting the crude rates in each population to a standard population base. In this bulletin, county rates are adjusted using the state population distribution as the standard.

The computation formula is:

 

The Sum of

(Age-specific rate for each age group * Standard population in that age group)

* 1000


Total Standard Population

AGE-SPECIFIC DEATH RATE: Number of deaths in a specific age group x 1000, divided by the total resident population in a specific age group.

AGE-SPECIFIC FERTILITY RATE: Number of resident live births to mothers in a specific age group x 1000, divided by the total female population in a specific age group (using mid-year population).

AGE-SPECIFIC PREGNANCY RATE: Number of resident pregnancies to women in a specific age group x 1000, divided by the total female population in a specific age group (using mid-year population).

ANNULMENT: The invalidation or voiding of a marriage which confers on the parties the status of never having been married to each other.

CRUDE BIRTH RATE: Number of resident live births x 1000, divided by the total resident population (using mid-year population).

CRUDE DEATH RATE: Number of resident deaths x 1000, divided by the total resident population (using mid-year population).

CUMULATIVE ROW PERCENT: The total number of cases in the current column plus each previous column in each row, expressed as a percentage of all cases in that row.

DEATH: The permanent disappearance of any evidence of life at any time after live birth.

DIVORCE: The final legal dissolution of a marriage.

DIVORCE RATE: The sum of the number of divorces and annulments, x 1000; divided by the total resident population (using mid-year population).

FERTILITY RATE: Number of resident live births to women ages 15 to 44 x 1000, divided by the total resident female population ages 15 to 44.

FETAL DEATH: A reportable fetal death is a death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of a product of conception, which has passed through at least the 20th week of gestation or weighs more than 400 grams; the death is indicated by the fact that, after such expulsion or extraction, the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles. Heartbeats are to be distinguished from transient cardiac contractions; respirations are to be distinguished from fleeting respiratory efforts or gasps.

FETAL DEATH RATE: Number of resident fetal deaths x 1000, divided by the total resident live births and resident fetal deaths.

FETAL DEATH RATIO: Number of resident fetal deaths divided by total resident live births.

INFANT DEATH: Death occurring in the first year of life.

INFANT DEATH RATE: Number of resident infant deaths x 1000, divided by the total resident live births.

LIVE BIRTH: The complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such expulsion or extraction, breathes or shows any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of the voluntary muscles whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. Heartbeats are to be distinguished from transient cardiac contractions; respirations are to be distinguished from fleeting respiratory efforts or gasps.

LOW BIRTH WEIGHT: A baby weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) at birth.

LOW BIRTH WEIGHT PERCENT: The number of live births weighing less than 2,500 grams divided by the total number of live births.

MARRIAGE: The legal union of persons of opposite sex.

MARRIAGE RATE: Number of marriages x 1000, divided by the total resident population (using mid-year population).

NATURAL INCREASE: Occurs when the number of births is greater than the number of deaths.

NEONATAL DEATH: Death of a live-born infant before the infant becomes 28 days old (up to and including 27 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes from the moment of birth).

NEONATAL DEATH RATE: Number of resident neonatal deaths x 1000, divided by the total resident live births.

OCCURRENCE: The place where the event actually occurred.

PERINATAL DEATH: A fetal death or a death occurring before the infant becomes seven days old (up to and including six days, 23 hours, 59 minutes from the moment of birth).

PERINATAL DEATH RATE: Number of resident perinatal deaths x 1000, divided by the total resident live births and resident fetal deaths.

PLURALITY: The number of siblings born as a result of this pregnancy.

PREGNANCY RATE: Number of resident pregnancies in women ages 15 to 44 x 1000, divided by the total resident female population ages 15 to 44.

RESIDENCE: The usual place of residence for the person to whom the event occurred. For births and fetal deaths, residence is defined as the mother's usual place of residence.

ROW PERCENT: The number of cases in each row expressed as a percentage of all cases in that row.

WEEKS OF GESTATION: The number of weeks elapsed between the first day of the last menstrual period and the date of delivery.

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