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This report shows live birth rates (per 1,000 females) in Vermont, over time, by location of birth and the mothers’ ages. Birth rates help identify trends in the decline or growth of Vermont’ population by state and region. They play a significant role in public policy and budgeting for care, education, and health systems. Mothers of different ages require specialized care programs and services, as well as outreach strategies. 

Live birth data used in this report are from the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) Vital Statistics System. They are for Vermont resident births, regardless of whether the birth occurred in or outside of Vermont. Vermont’s vital records (data concerning births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages, civil unions, divorces, and dissolutions) are collected according to state and federal laws and stored in VDH’s Vital Statistics System. When a birth occurs in the state, the physician, midwife, or other birth attendant is required by law to complete a birth certificate and file it with the town clerk in the town of birth within 5 days. For hospital births, medical records staff usually complete the birth certificate. The completed birth certificate is recorded and filed in the town where the birth took place, and a certified copy is sent to VDH for incorporation in the state’s Vital Statistics System. Data are then sent to the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the Federal compilation of each state’s vital records data across the county, where public access is provided to statistical information from birth certificates.

A live birth was defined as the birth of a newborn, irrespective of the duration of gestation, that exhibits any sign of life, such as respiration, heartbeat, umbilical pulsation, or movement of voluntary muscles. A live birth is not always a viable birth.

Female population counts and estimates for specific age groups were acquired from VDH. The female population counts for 1990, 2000, and 2010 were gathered as part of the United States Census Bureau’s decennial census. Female population estimates for the years 1991 to 1999 and 2001 to 2009 were collected as part of the United States Census Bureau’s intercensal estimates. The intercensal estimates are population estimates that occur between each official decennial census. Postcensal estimates, or population estimates produced by the United States Census Bureau after the most recent decennial census, were used for the years 2011 to 2013.

State-level data were aggregated by year while data for the Vermont counties and Agency of Human Service (AHS) districts were averaged by discrete three-year periods to account for data that may fluctuate greatly from year to year, thus maximizing reliability. AHS district data for the years 2000 and 2001 were excluded from the analyses since they could not be grouped into a discrete, three-year period.

Values between 1 and 10 (inclusive) were suppressed/removed for a given geography and replaced with the value ‘-999’ or ‘-999.00.’ Secondary suppression occurred in instances where a data element could be used to calculate a related value that was suppressed (e.g., when a numerator was suppressed for a calculation, the denominator and resulting value from the calculation were suppressed). When suppression of one case within a group of cases (e.g., a single age group for a county and year) could result in reverse calculation of suppressed values, secondary suppression was applied to the next case with lowest value (e.g. the county with the next lowest age group values were suppressed for the same year). The suppression rules were enforced to prevent the identification of individuals in an effort to preserve privacy and confidentiality.

The age group ’10- to 14-years old’ was excluded from the displays. Live birth counts and average counts for this age group did not exceeded 10 for any geography and year combination and suppression was global. Counts for the ’10- to 14-year old’ age group are included in the ‘All Ages (10- to 44-years old)’ age group and were used to calculates that group’s live birth rate for each year/three-year period.

Statewide rates for live births, by single year, were calculated using the following formula:

([Live Birth Count for the Year] / [Female Population Count for the Year]) * 1,000

Average rates for live births, by discrete three-year periods, were calculated for the statewide, county, and AHS districts using the following formula:

([Average Live Birth Count for the Three-Year Period] / [Average Female Population Count for the Three-Year Period]) * 1,000;

For the Vermont county and Agency of Human Services (AHS) geographies, a large number of cases were suppressed for the ’15- to 17-year old’ due to small sample sizes. Secondary suppression resulted in a number of ’18- to 19-year old’ cases being suppressed as well. Caution should be used when comparing or interpreting results for these ages. The ’10- to 14-year old’ age group is not shown in any of the displays due to widespread suppression. See the Analyses section for more details about the suppression techniques applied to the data.

Low birth rates may indicate that the population is aging while sustained high birth rates may show the presence of a much younger population structure. In 2013, the age group with the highest live birth rate in Vermont was the 25- to 29-year olds (94.66 live births per 1,000 females; live birth count=1,677 for 17,716 females). The live birth rate for the 25- to 29-year old female population rose to the highest level in 2005 at 118.64 per 1,000 females (live birth count=1,818 for 15,324 females) but then declined to 97.35 (live birth count=1,733 for 17,802 females) by 2009. The live birth rate for the 15- to 19-year old age group has since remained steady between 2009 and 2013. The lowest live birth rate in 2013, excluding the 10- to 14-year old age group, was the 15- to 17-year old population (4.92 live births per 1,000 females; live birth count=55 for 11,184 females). This year marked the lowest live birth rate for the 15- to 17-year old age group in Vermont since 1990. Live birth rates for the 15- to 17-, 15- to 19-, 18- to 19-, and 20 to 24-year olds have trended downward since 1990. During that same period, the live birth rates for the 30- to 34- and 35- to 44-year old female population showed an increase in trends.

At the county-level between 2011 and 2013, Franklin County had the highest live birth rate for all ages (10- to 44-years old) at 54.22 live births per 1,000 females (live birth count=582 for 10,726 females) while Addison County had the lowest at 38.81 live births per 1,000 females (live birth count=311 for 8,018 females). For the Agency of Human Services (AHS) districts between 2011 and 2013, the St. Albans AHS district had the highest live birth rate for all ages (10- to 44-years old) at 53.15 per 1,000 females (live birth count=639 for 12,021 women) and Middlebury AHS district had the lowest at 38.86 (live birth count=311 for 8,000 females).