Our Vital Records shop does a lot more than manage the State’s birth and death certificate system (which we’ve been doing since 1885).  We’re also an integral part of the Nation’s Vital Statistics System, which serves as the backbone of national data sharing in public health. The data collected under the National Vital Statistics System works in partnership with the National Center for Health Statistics to produce critical information on public health topics like teenage births and birth rates, prenatal care and birth weight, risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, infant mortality rates, leading causes of death, and life expectancy.  All these data are retrieved from the nation’s network of Vital Records shops like ours. 

There have been two birth certificate standards that the states are currently following – the 1989 and the 2003 standard. We’ve been one of the states that had been following the 1989 standard- but not anymore.  Beginning the first week in January, we’ll be turning the key on the new 2003 Standard.  The new Electronic Birth Registration System that we’ll be using will collect a lot more public health surveillance data.  It’s also an electronic system- which will make things much faster and efficient.  The new system will have impacts all throughout our Strategic Plan.  Here are a couple examples: 

  • A1 – Reduce Obesity – The former 1989 standard had zero data on the mother’s height and weight- meaning we couldn’t calculate the mom’s BMI.  Starting next week, we’ll be able to collect this data- which will give us better surveillance- and in turn, help us identify more targeted public health interventions- helping us to make progress in reducing critical risk factors for poor maternal and child health outcomes.
  • A2 – Reduce Tobacco Use and Substance Abuse –  The old system only captured generic measures about maternal smoking during pregnancy.  The new system will have specific cigarette smoking data before and during pregnancy- providing rich data for prevention activities- helping us to improve birth outcomes. 

Other important data elements include information on breastfeeding, whether mother received food during pregnancy from the WIC program (helping us to better evaluate our WIC program), critical medical data elements like congenital anomalies, and fertility treatments (Assisted Reproductive Technology)…  all of which provide newer opportunities for prevention.  The public health applications that the new system will provide are too long to list in a short blog like this… but they’re substantial- believe me.  We’re even going to be able to incorporate the data we’ll be collecting in the new system into our new Midwife rules. 

From a customer service perspective, the new system has improved security for fraud prevention and will provide speedier transactions for printing birth certificates at the county level.  Thanks to all the IT and vital records team that put in the endless hours to make this new application possible.