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INFANT DEATHS, FETAL DEATHS, ABORTIONS AND PREGNANCIES

INFANT DEATHS

In 1997, there were 40 resident infant deaths for a rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Preliminary U.S. white data for 1997 indicate a rate of 6.0 per 1,000. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white rate because no Vermont resident infant deaths were to non-whites in 1997. The Vermont infant mortality rate was 24.0 in 1960, declining to 17.6 in 1970, 10.9 in 1980, and 6.5 in 1990. The lowest infant mortality rate attained in Vermont was 5.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991.

Twenty-eight (70 percent) of the infant deaths occurred during the neonatal period, that is before the infant became 28 days old. The neonatal death rate was 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, slightly lower than the 1996 rate of 4.6. The 1997 U.S. white neonatal death rate was 3.9. In 1980, the Vermont neonatal mortality rate was 6.2, 14.4 in 1970 and 18.6 in 1960.

The leading causes of infant mortality included congenital anomalies, complications due to prematurity and low birth weight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

One of the most important risk factors in infant mortality is low birth weight. Of resident infants who died in 1997, 64.9 percent had a birth weight less than 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces), while 6.3 percent of all resident births were low weight. The infant mortality rate for low weight births was 58.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Age of mother is also related to infant mortality. From 1995 to 1997, the infant mortality rate for mothers 15 through 19 years of age was 7.6, for mothers age 20 through 24 the rate was 9.9, and for mothers 40 through 44 years the rate was 6.5. The two youngest maternal age groups also had the highest neonatal death rates at 4.7 for the 15-19 year olds and 6.3 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 28 resident fetal deaths in 1997 for a rate of 4.2 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths, up slightly from 4.1 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths in 1996. The U.S. white fetal death rate was 5.9 in 1996. Of the fetal deaths in Vermont, 72 percent weighed less than 2500 grams. Higher rates of fetal deaths were seen in the youngest and oldest maternal age groups. From 1995 to 1997, the fetal death rate was 6.4 per 1,000 live births for women age 15 to 19, and the rate was 12.8 for women age 40 to 44.

 

VERMONT ABORTIONS

The number of abortions in Vermont has been decreasing. There were 1,961 abortions performed in Vermont in 1997, and this number has dropped every year since 1989 when 3,313 abortions were performed. Vermont residents accounted for 1,626 or 82.9 percent of abortions that occurred in the state. This was a rate of 12.2 per 1,000 women aged 15 through 44, down from 12.4 in 1996.

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 1997 was 246.3 abortions per 1,000 live births, down from 250.4 in 1996. The abortion ratio for the U.S. white population was 204 in 1995. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white ratio because only 3.3 percent of Vermont resident abortions were to non-whites in 1997.

Women age 20 through 24 had the highest age-specific abortion rate, 28.9 per 1,000 women, followed by women age 15 to 19 at 17.4. First trimester abortions accounted for 95.7 percent of all Vermont abortions and 62.0 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 1997, the pregnancy rate in Vermont was 61.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, compared to 62.7 in 1996, 77.1 in 1990, and 84.0 in 1980. The pregnancy rate peaked at 127.6 in 1960 and has dropped fairly steadily ever since.

The 1997 teen pregnancy rate was 44.5 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 19 years. This is down from 49.0 in 1996, and in general the teen pregnancy rate has been decreasing since 1991. In 1997, the highest pregnancy rate was seen in women 20 to 24 years of age at 115.2, followed by the 25 through 29 age group at 100.6. The lowest rate was for women age 35 to 44 at 24.5.

 

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