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BIRTHS

In 1999, 6,560 babies were born to Vermont residents. This represents a decrease of 9 births from 1998. The number of babies born to Vermont residents has declined every year since 1989. The crude birth rate in 1999 was 11.0 per 1,000 Vermont residents, compared to 11.1 in 1998 and 11.2 in 1997. The U.S. white birth rate was 13.9 in 1999. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white rate because 98.6 percent of Vermont resident births were to white mothers in 1999. The Vermont birth rate peaked in 1955 at 24 per 1,000 residents, then dropped for two decades, remained relatively stable from the late 1970's through the 1980's, and has been slowly and steadily decreasing since 1989.

FERTILITY

Although the crude birth rate reflects the relationship between the total resident live births and the total resident population, a more exact method for measuring changing birth patterns is the fertility rate which relates the number of live births to the population of women ages 15 through 44. The birth rate and the fertility rate are both based on the number of live births.

The 1999 Vermont fertility rate was 49.0 per 1,000 women ages 15 through 44, a slight increase from the state's lowest recorded rate of 48.9 in 1998. The U.S. white fertility rate was 65.1 in 1999. The fertility rate in Vermont peaked in 1960 at 126, declined through the 1960's and 1970's, leveled off slightly in the 1980's and has declined through the 1990's. In recent years, the age-specific fertility rates have declined in the youngest age group, and fluctuated in the other age groups.

FIGURE 5

AGE-SPECIFIC FERTILITY RATES, SELECTED YEARS 1980-1999

AGES/ YEAR

1980

1990

1998

 1999

TOTAL

63.3

60.5

48.9

49.0

15 - 19

38.5

34.1

24.4

25.6

20 - 24

102.4

93.9

85.1

80.9

25 - 29

113.0

114.6

88.3

87.7

30 - 34

60.2

79.5

77.0

77.8

35 - 44

12.5

19.6

19.1

20.6

 

Slightly less than half of all births (48.6%) in 1999 were to women in their twenties, down from 66.2 percent in 1980. Women age 30 and over accounted for 42.9 percent of births, up from 21 percent in 1980. Women age 15 through 19 accounted for 8.4 percent of births, down from 12.7 percent in 1980.

BIRTH WEIGHT

A subgroup of major importance are low birth weight babies, those weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces) at birth. These infants are more likely to die in the first month of life and are at significantly greater risk of growth problems and developmental delays.

In 1999, 5.7 percent of Vermont resident births were low birth weight and 1.1 percent were very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams or 3 pounds 5 ounces). The U.S. white low birth weight rate for 1999 was 6.6 percent. In Vermont in 1999, low birth weight babies comprised 7.9 percent of births to women under age 20, compared to 5.7 percent of births to women age 20-29 and 5.3 percent of births to women age 30 or greater. The Vermont low birth weight rate remains above the Healthy Vermonters 2010 goal of 5.0 percent.

PRENATAL CARE

In 1999, 87.9 percent of the babies were born to mothers who began prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy. The percentage of women receiving first trimester prenatal care has been increasing, slowly but steadily since 1987. Data for 1999 show that 85.1 percent of U.S. white births were to women who began prenatal care in the first trimester.

The proportion of births in 1999 to Vermont mothers who delayed care to the third trimester or received no prenatal care was 2.3 percent, up slightly from 1998. The proportion of women receiving late or no prenatal care in 1999 was 3.2 percent for U.S. white mothers. As in previous years, the age of the mother is closely associated with the time of entry to prenatal care with young women seeking care later than older women.

RISK FACTORS

Smoking during pregnancy was reported in 16.5 percent of all births, and for 26.3 percent of the low birth weight babies. Alcohol use during pregnancy was reported by 1.0 percent of women. (Since smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy are not always reported, these underestimate smoking and alcohol use. It should also be noted that there may be inconsistencies in reporting among hospitals.)

Of the births in 1999, 74.6 percent of mothers had no reported medical risk factors for pregnancy. Of those with medical risk factors reported, the most common were pregnancy-associated hypertension, diabetes, previous pre-term or small-for-gestational-age infant, uterine bleeding, anemia, and acute or chronic lung disease. In 1999, 63.5 percent of births had no complications of labor and/or delivery reported. Of those with complications, the most common complications of labor and/or delivery were dysfunctional labor, meconium, prolonged labor, fetal distress, and premature rupture of membrane.

DELIVERIES

Of babies born in Vermont hospitals in 1999, 16.6 percent were delivered by cesarean section compared to a cesarean section rate of 21.9 percent for U.S. white women in 1999. The primary cesarean section rate was 12.2 percent in Vermont for 1999, compared to 15.3 percent for white mothers nationally in 1999. Of mothers delivering in Vermont hospitals in 1999 who had a previous delivery by cesarean section, 37.4 percent had vaginal births, compared to 23.2 percent for white mothers nationally in 1998.

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