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INFANT DEATHS, FETAL DEATHS, ABORTIONS AND PREGNANCIES

INFANT DEATHS

        In 2002, there were 27 resident infant deaths for a rate of 4.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This is the lowest rate ever in Vermont (Table A-1). The rate fell below the Healthy Vermonters 2010 goal of 4.5, and is lower than the 2001 U.S. white rate of 5.7. The 2002 U.S. white infant death rate is not available at this time. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white rate because all of the Vermont resident infant deaths were to whites in 2002. The Vermont infant mortality rate steadily declined from 24.0 in 1960 to 5.8 per 1,000 live births in 1991. The rate fluctuated through the rest of the 90's, and has decreased the past two years.

        Eighteen (66.7 percent) of the infant deaths occurred during the neonatal period, that is, before the infant became 28 days old (Table D-3). The neonatal death rate was 2.8 deaths per 1,000 live births (Table D-5), lower than the 2001 U.S. white neonatal death rate of 3.8. 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 (Table A-1). The rate increased through the nineties to a high of 5.9 in 1998 before sharply dropping to 3.2 in 1999. After increasing to 3.8 in 2000, the rate decreased to 3.6 in 2001, and 2.8 in 2002 - the lowest rate ever in Vermont.

        The leading causes of infant deaths (Table D-9) were birth defects (5), extreme immaturity (3), maternal complications (2), birth trauma (2), and SIDS (2).

        One of the most important risk factors in infant mortality is low birth weight. Of resident infants who died in 2002, 84.6 percent had a birth weight less than 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces), while 6.4 percent of all resident births were low weight. The infant mortality rate for low weight births was 54.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. Age of mother is also related to infant mortality (Table D-5). From 2000 to 2002, the infant mortality rate for mothers 15 through 19 years of age was 8.9, and for mothers age 20 through 24 the rate was 8.2. The youngest maternal age group also had the highest neonatal death rates at 6.3 for the 15-19 year olds.

FETAL DEATHS

        Unlike births and deaths, reports of fetal deaths and abortions are not shared among states. Therefore, statistics concerning these events reflect occurrences in Vermont only and do not include Vermont resident fetal deaths and abortions that occurred in other states.

        There were 23 resident fetal deaths in 2002 ( Table D-1 ) for a rate of 3.6 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths, up from 3.4 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths in 2001 ( Table D-5 ). Of the fetal deaths in Vermont, 87.0 percent weighed less than 2500 grams ( Table D-7 ). From 2000 to 2002, the fetal death rates were highest in the youngest and oldest age groups: 6.9 per 1,000 live births for women age 15 to 19, and 5.6 for women age 40 to 44 ( Table D-5 ).

VERMONT ABORTIONS

        There were 1,635 abortions performed in Vermont in 2002, the first increase in number since 1989. Vermont residents accounted for 1,411, or 86.3 percent. This represents a rate of 10.9 per 1,000 women age 15 to 44.

        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 2002 was 221.0 abortions per 1,000 live births, among the lowest since 1975. The most recent U.S. white abortion ratio available was 167 per 1,000 live births, in 2000.

        Women age 20 to 24 had the highest age-specific abortion rate, 29.0 per 1,000 women, followed by women age 25 to 29 at 19.6. First trimester abortions accounted for 94.2 percent of all Vermont abortions and 67.9 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.

[Note: Thirty-seven abortion records were reported late for the 2001 Annual Vital Statistics Report. The correct number of abortions performed in Vermont in 2001 was 1,550, rather than the reported 1,513.]

VERMONT RESIDENT PREGNANCIES

        The pregnancy rate is derived by adding live births, fetal deaths and abortions. The pregnancy rates presented in this report underestimate the actual number of pregnancies for two reasons. First, Vermont resident abortions and fetal deaths that occur out of state are not reported to us. Second, by statute, fetal deaths prior to 20 weeks gestation are not reportable. Since residents of some counties may be more likely to use out-of-state services, the extent of these underestimates may differ among counties.

        In 2002, the pregnancy rate in Vermont was 60.3 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 (Table F-1), compared to 58.4 in 2001, 61.2 in 2000, and 84.2 in 1980. The pregnancy rate peaked at 127.6 in 1960 and has dropped fairly steadily ever since (Table A-1).

        The 2002 teen pregnancy rate was 36.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 19 years (Table F-1). This is down from 36.4 in 2001, and in general the teen pregnancy rate has been decreasing since 1991. In 2002, the highest pregnancy rate was seen in women 25 to 29 years of age at 116.6, followed by the 20 to 24 age group at 99.7. The lowest rate was for women age 35 to 44 at 25.2.



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