Birth is a wonderful and complex process. Of the approximately 4 million babies born each year in the United States, most are full term and healthy. Unfortunately, almost 12% of these babies are premature which may result in significant health issues for the child’s lifetime.
Every new baby is issued a ‘Certificate of Live Birth.’ This birth certificate contains details about the mother and baby such as the mother’s race, age, relevant medical conditions, tobacco use, and prenatal care as well as the baby’s gestational age, birth weight, and obvious medical conditions at the time of birth. We use this information to track birth outcomes (birth weight, gestational age, and survival) and risk factors for adverse birth outcomes (prenatal care, tobacco use, and premature rupture of membranes). By analyzing these outcomes and risk factors, we can identify communities at higher risk or link possible environmental factors to adverse birth outcomes.