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INFANT DEATHS, FETAL DEATHS, ABORTIONS AND PREGNANCIES

INFANT DEATHS

In 1999, there were 37 resident infant deaths for a rate of 5.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Although this is the lowest rate ever in Vermont, it still remains above the Healthy Vermonters 2010 goal of 4.5, but slightly lower than the preliminary 1999 U.S. white rate of 5.8. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white rate because 100 percent of the Vermont resident infant deaths were to whites in 1999. The Vermont infant mortality rate steadily declined from 24.0 in 1960 to 5.8 per 1,000 live births in 1991. The rate has fluctuated through the rest of the 90's.

Twenty-one (57 percent) of the infant deaths occurred during the neonatal period, that is, before the infant became 28 days old. The neonatal death rate was 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, also the lowest recorded in Vermont. The preliminary 1999 U.S. white neonatal death rate was 3.9. The Vermont neonatal death rate has decreased over the past four decades from 18.6 in 1960, to 14.4 in 1970, to 6.2 in 1980, to 3.6 in 1990.

The leading causes of infant deaths continue to be prematurity and related causes, congenital anomalies (birth defects) and SIDS.

One of the most important risk factors in infant mortality is low birth weight. Of resident infants who died in 1999, 57.6 percent had a birth weight less than 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces), while 5.7 percent of all resident births were low weight. The infant mortality rate for low weight births was 50.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Age of mother is also related to infant mortality. From 1997 to 1999, the infant mortality rate for mothers 15 through 19 years of age was 11.2, for mothers age 20 through 24 the rate was 7.6, and for mothers 40 through 44 years the rate was 3.8. The two youngest maternal age groups also had the highest neonatal death rates at 7.4 for the 15-19 year olds and 5.3 for the 20-24 year olds.

FETAL DEATHS

Exchange of reports of fetal deaths and abortions among states is inconsistent. Therefore, statistics concerning these events reflect primarily occurrences within Vermont and may not necessarily reflect the true experience of Vermont residents.

There were 29 resident fetal deaths in 1999 for a rate of 4.4 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths, up from 3.2 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths in 1998. Of the fetal deaths in Vermont, 76 percent weighed less than 2500 grams. From 1997 to 1999, the fetal death rates were highest in the youngest and oldest maternal age groups: 5.6 per 1,000 live births for women age 15 to 19, and 5.6 for women age 40 to 44.

VERMONT ABORTIONS

The number of abortions in Vermont has been decreasing since 1989 when 3,313 were performed. There were 1,748 abortions performed in Vermont in 1999, and Vermont residents accounted for 1,454 or 83.2 percent. This was a rate of 10.9 per 1,000 women age 15 through 44, down from 11.3 in 1998.

The abortion ratio is the number of resident abortions occurring in Vermont times 1,000, divided by the total resident live births. The abortion ratio for 1999 was 221.6 abortions per 1,000 live births, down from 230.3 in 1998. The U.S. numbers are not yet available for comparison.

Women age 20 through 24 had the highest age-specific abortion rate, 27.5 per 1,000 women, followed by women age 25 to 29 at 14.0. First trimester abortions accounted for 97.7 percent of all Vermont abortions and 65.3 percent of all Vermont abortions were for pregnancies of less than 9 weeks duration. See Appendix B for the method used to compute the number of weeks of gestation.

VERMONT RESIDENT PREGNANCIES

The pregnancy rate is derived by adding live births, fetal deaths and abortions. Due to non-reporting of out-of-state abortions and fetal deaths, as well as non-reporting of fetal deaths prior to 20 weeks of gestation, these rates represent underestimates of the actual number of pregnancies. The extent of these underestimations may differ among counties since residents of some counties may be more likely to use out-of-state services.

In 1999, the pregnancy rate in Vermont was 60.0 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, compared to 60.3 in 1998, 77.1 in 1990, and 84.2 in 1980. The pregnancy rate peaked at 127.6 in 1960 and has dropped fairly steadily ever since.

The 1999 teen pregnancy rate was 38.7 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 19 years. This is down from 39.9 in 1998, and in general the teen pregnancy rate has been decreasing since 1991. In 1999, the highest pregnancy rate was seen in women 20 to 24 years of age at 108.8, followed by the 25 through 29 age group at 102.1. The lowest rate was for women age 35 to 44 at 24.6.

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