(UPDATED ON 8/24/2007)
In 2003, there were 33 resident infant deaths for a rate of 5.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This is second lowest rate ever in Vermont (Table A-1). The rate rose above the Healthy Vermonters 2010 goal of 4.5, and is lower than the 2002 U.S. white rate of 5.8. The 2003 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 2003. The Vermont infant mortality rate steadily declined from 24.0 in 1960 to 5.8 per 1,000 live births in 1991. The rate then fluctuated for most of the 1990s before again showing downward trend in recent years.
Thirty (90.9 percent) of the infant deaths occurred during the neonatal period, that is before the infant became 28 days old (Table D-6). The neonatal death rate was 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births (Table D-5), higher than the 2002 U.S. white neonatal death rate of 3.9. 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 (10), extreme immaturity (7), maternal complications (5), and atelectasis (3).
One of the most important risk factors in infant mortality is low birth weight (Table D-7). Of resident infants who died in 2003, 78.8 percent had a birth weight less than 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces), while 7.0 percent of all resident births were low weight. The infant mortality rate for low weight births was 56.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Age of mother is also related to infant mortality (Table D-5). From 2001 to 2003, the infant mortality rate for mothers 15 through 19 years of age was 6.1, and for mothers age 20 through 24 the rate was 7.2. The 20-24 year old maternal age group had the highest neonatal death rates at 5.3.
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 21 resident fetal deaths in 2003 (Table D-1) for a rate of 3.2 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths, down from 3.6 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths in 2002 (Table D-5). Of the fetal deaths in Vermont, eight weighed less than 2500 grams (Table D-7). From 2001 to 2003, the fetal death rates were highest in the youngest and oldest age groups: 4.7 per 1,000 live births for women age 15 to 19 and 5.1 for women age 40 to 44 (Table D-5).
There were 1696 abortions performed in Vermont in 2003, the second consecutive increase in number, after declining each year since 1989. Vermont residents accounted for 1,457, or 85.9 percent. This represents a rate of 11.3 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 2003 was 218.8 abortions per 1,000 live births, among the lowest ratios since 1975. The most recent U.S. white abortion ratio available was 165 per 1,000 live births, in 2001.
Women age 20 to 24 had the highest age-specific abortion rate, of 23.0 per 1,000 women, followed by women age 25 to 29 at 16.7. First trimester abortions accounted for 92.3 percent of all Vermont abortions and 66.6 percent of all Vermont abortions were for pregnancies of less than 9 weeks duration (Table E-5). See Appendix B for the method used to compute the number of weeks of gestation.
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 2003, the pregnancy rate in Vermont was 62.3 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 (Table F-1), compared to 60.3 in 2002, 58.4 in 2001, and 84.2 in 1980. The pregnancy rate peaked at 127.6 in 1960 and dropped steadily until 1995, and has been fairly stable since then (Table A-1).
The 2003 teen pregnancy rate was 31.5 pregnancies per 1,000 women age 15 to 19 years (Table F-1). This is down from 36.1 in 2002, and in general the teen pregnancy rate has been decreasing since 1991. In 2003, the highest pregnancy rate was seen in women 25 to 29 years of age at 123.1, followed by the 30 to 34 age group at 105.4. The lowest rate was for women age 35 to 44 at 27.9.