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Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Apr 1;137(7):758-68.

Validation of 1989 Tennessee birth certificates using maternal and newborn hospital records.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.


In 1989, the state of Tennessee adopted a new birth certificate which incorporates changes recommended by the National Center for Health Statistics in the revised US Standard Certificate of Live Birth. The data now being collected are intended to provide improved information for understanding maternal and infant health issues. To assess data quality, the authors compared information reported on the 1989 Tennessee birth certificates with the same data obtained from an ongoing case-control study in which the delivery hospital medical records of mothers and infants were reviewed by trained nurse abstractors using a structured data collection instrument. Cases (n = 1,016) were all infants born in Tennessee in 1989 with birth weights less than 1,500 g or other infants who died during the first 28 days of life. The infants were identified from linked birth-death certificate files. Control infants (n = 634) were randomly selected from the noncase population. The most reliable information obtained from birth certificates was descriptive demographic data and birth weight. The quality of information obtained from the new birth certificate checkboxes varied. Routine medical procedures were better reported on the birth certificates than relatively uncommon conditions and occurrences, even serious ones. Caution is needed in using birth certificate data for assessment of maternal medical risk factors, complications of labor and delivery, abnormal conditions of the newborn, and congenital anomalies, since sensitivity is low.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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