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Reported Pregnancies

Vital Statistics

2010 Reported Pregnancies: Introduction


For more than two decades, the State Center for Health Statistics (SCHS) has published the “North Carolina Reported Pregnancies” report. This is the eleventh year that data regarding North Carolina’s pregnancies will be published exclusively on the SCHS web site.

As with previous publications, the data presented are for all North Carolina pregnancies. Total pregnancies represent the sum of all induced abortions, live births, and fetal deaths 20 or more weeks of gestation reported in the state. Not included are spontaneous fetal deaths (still births) occurring prior to 20 weeks gestation, which are not reportable to the state. Special emphasis is placed on abortions, given that they are not reported in other SCHS publications.

Induced Abortion Data

Beginning in 1978, abortion providers began voluntarily reporting detailed characteristics on nearly all of the procedures performed in their facilities. The data reported to SCHS by abortion facilities contain only demographic and basic medical information on the patient (e.g., race, age of mother, and weeks of gestation). No information that would identify a patient is included in the SCHS files. The majority of abortion sites send the SCHS data on all abortions performed at their facilities. In addition, several states, such as South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee, also share their abortion data for North Carolina residents receiving abortions outside the state. However, in the case of abortion sites or states failing to report 100 percent of their abortion data, their detailed data have been randomly extrapolated based on aggregate figures that they supply. These adjustments should not seriously bias the overall results.

During 2010, 24 in-state licensed facilities reported 30,952 abortions to the State Center for Health Statistics. This is a slight increase from the 30,596 reported in 2009. Among 2010 abortions, only 1.1 percent were performed in hospital settings. The remaining 98.9 percent occurred in 19 non-hospital facilities, primarily free-standing clinics. Among abortions performed in North Carolina in 2010, a total of 5,752 were to residents of other states or countries. Of these, 74.5 percent were residents of South Carolina and 15.7 percent were residents of Virginia. Georgia accounted for 2.5 percent of the nonresident abortions; Tennessee 1.5 percent; and Florida 0.4 percent. The 30,952 abortions reported in North Carolina occurred in 11 counties. A total of 10,753 abortions or 34.7 percent of the state total occurred in Mecklenburg County, while 26.4 percent occurred in Wake County, 11.2 percent in Orange County, 8.3 percent in Guilford County, and 8.2 percent occurred in Cumberland County.

Induced abortions to residents of North Carolina totaled 25,808, a decrease of 1.2 percent from 2009. The numbers varied widely by county of residence during 2010 with all of the 100 counties represented. The number of abortions by county of residence ranged from 3 to 3,972. The most populous counties accounted for the greatest frequencies. The average age of residents receiving abortions was 26.0 while the average educational level was 12.9 years. In 2010, 2.4 percent of North Carolina resident abortions occurred in other states. Of these, 79.6 percent occurred in Virginia and 17.4 occurred in South Carolina. The remaining 3 percent were reported from Tennessee (N=11), Kansas (N=2), West Virginia (N=4), and Washington (N=1).

Fetal Death Data

In North Carolina, a fetal death is defined as: “Death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy; the death is indicated by the fact that after such expulsion or extraction the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles” (Administrative Procedure 7G, .0101 (6)). By general statute, a fetal death certificate must be filed if the death occurs at 20 or more weeks of fetal gestation. Fetal death data presented in this report are derived from demographic information on these fetal death certificates.

The data presented here show trends in white and minority fetal deaths by race and maternal age. Although single-year rates are presented, because of the instability of rates based on small numbers, counties are urged to use 5-year fetal death rates. Also note that race-specific fetal death rates for regions and counties are available in North Carolina Vital Statistics, Volume I.

The overall fetal death rate remained relatively the same from 2009 (6.7) to 2010 (6.6). Higher fetal death rates occurred among minorities and mothers age 35 and older.

Live Birth Data

All North Carolina hospitals and birthing centers are mandated to file birth certificates with the state for all live births occurring at their facilities. State legislation specifies that a live birth is defined as “the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which after expulsion or extraction, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached” (Administrative Procedure 7G, .0102 (5)). Birth data presented in this report are derived from demographic and other information collected from the birth certificate.

There were 122,302 resident live births in 2010 -- a 3.5 percent decrease in the number of live births in 2009. The percentage of newborns at low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) remained the same from 2009 to 2010 (9.1 percent). The percent of very low birth weight newborns dropped slightly from 2009 (1.8 percent) to 2010 (1.7 percent).


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