Background and purpose: Birth certificates are a major source of population-based data often used in maternal and child health research, but their value depends upon the level of accuracy of the data. The purpose of this study was to assess the validity of the birth registry data in Taiwan.
Methods: Obstetric records of a total of 2779 infants born at a municipal hospital in Taipei between 1995 and 1997 were abstracted and linked to the Taiwan Birth Registry (TBR). Concordance was presented by agreement percentages for various birth characteristics including gender, birth order, birth weight, and gestational age. Concordance was further assessed using Cohen's k and sensitivity/specificity for both birth weight and gestational age, with both variables categorized according to their customary definitions.
Results: Missing data for specific items in the TBR ranged from 0% (gender) to 1.6% (birth order). The birth registry accurately reported all 4 selected items, with the highest and lowest concordance percentage noted for gender (99.0%) and gestational age (88.3%), respectively. The level of agreement indicated by the Cohen's k statistic ranged from 0.92 to 0.96 for birth weight and gestational age when both variables were treated as categorical variables.
Conclusions: The TBR showed a low rate of missing information and high levels of validity for the elements frequently used in maternal and child health research in Taiwan.