Validation of birth certificate data. A study of women in New Jersey's HealthStart program

Ann Epidemiol. 2001 Apr;11(3):186-93. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(00)00209-x.


Purpose: This study assesses the accuracy of 1989-1992 birth certificate data from New Jersey for a group of high-risk women.

Methods: Birth records were linked to data on women who participated in HealthStart, a program of enriched prenatal care for pregnant women on Medicaid. Concordance was assessed for all variables common to the two data sets.

Results: The birth records had accurate reporting of birth-weight, demographic characteristics, and most methods of delivery. Prenatal care use was over-reported, and alcohol, tobacco, transfer status, medical risk factors, obstetric procedures, as well as complications of labor and delivery were underreported.

Conclusions: While many variables are reported very accurately on birth certificates, other measures must be used cautiously. Analyses using birth certificate data, particularly those focusing on high-risk women, need to take the low levels of sensitivity for many risk factors into consideration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Birth Certificates*
  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicaid / organization & administration*
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Records / standards
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / epidemiology
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Prenatal Care / organization & administration
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Quality Control
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors