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The Baby Book

Vital Statistics

Definitions, 2007

A 'live birth' is the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such separation, breathes or shows any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or any definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. (Definition adopted by the World Health Organization in 1950.)

An 'unmarried' mother is one who has never been legally married or who has been widowed or legally divorced from her husband for more than 280 days.

'Birth order' is the sum of all previous deliveries (live births plus other reported terminations, i.e., spontaneous and induced at any time after conception) plus the present live birth.

'Birth weight' is expressed in grams. A low-weight birth is defined as a live born infant weighing less than 2500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces or less) at birth, regardless of the period of gestation. (Birth Weight Index recommended by the expert group on prematurity of the World Health Organization, 1950.)

'Age of mother' is her reported age in completed years on her last birthday.

'Education of mother' is the number of years of school completed by the mother at time of the birth.

Residence Allocation

Births are assigned to the usual residence of the mother, regardless of the place of occurrence.

Race Allocation

Two broad categories, 'white' and 'minority', are used. About 90 percent of the minority births in North Carolina are African American, and this category also includes births to American Indians and mothers of other races. Births to Hispanics (an ethnic group) are included mainly in the 'white' racial group. In cases of mixed parentage, the newborn is considered to be the race of the mother.

Note: Counts and percentages in this report are based on live births filed with the local registrar before April and processed in the state office prior to May of the year following the birth. The number filed subsequently is considered negligible for statistical purposes.