Sources of Data
Births, Deaths and Fetal Deaths
Birth, death and fetal death certificates are the source documents for
data on these events. Birth certificates are usually completed by hospital
personnel, while death and fetal death certificates are prepared by hospital
personnel, physicians, medical examiners and funeral directors. Certificates
of births, deaths and fetal deaths which occur in New Jersey are transmitted
through local registrars to the State Registrar for processing and filing.
Through agreements sponsored by the national Vital Statistics Cooperative
Program, information from birth, death and fetal death certificates for
New Jersey residents are sent to the State Registrar when these events
occur in other states. Information from certificates on out-of-state vital
events are provided under the program for statistical purposes only.
The birth, death and fetal death data presented in this report were
generated from data files available at the time of preparation of the
respective chapters. Any data pertaining to a vital event for which a
certificate was filed after that time or relating to corrections or revisions
made since the data were processed for this report are not included. Birth
and death computer files are periodically updated by Bureau of Vital Statistics
and Center for Health Statistics staff based on correction reports received
from local registrars and from quarterly data quality control analyses
conducted by the Center for Health Statistics. This report incorporates
data from the most recently updated files. Thus, data for the current
year presented in future reports of vital events may differ slightly from
numbers presented in this report.
Marriages and Divorces
Information on marriages in this report was obtained from marriage certificates
issued in New Jersey. Marriage certificates are filed with the State Registrar.
Divorce and annulment statistics were provided by the New Jersey Superior
Court, Chancery Division. Marriages are recorded by the place of issuance
of the certificate and divorces and annulments are recorded by place of
judgment. Marriages, divorces and annulments of New Jersey residents which
occur outside of the State are not included in this report, while marriages
and divorces of out-of-state residents occurring in New Jersey are included.
Reporting of cases of selected communicable diseases to the State Department of Health is required under the New Jersey Sanitary
Code, Chapter II and the N.J.A.C. 8:57. Cases of AIDS are reportable to
the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program in the AIDS Epidemiological Services
Unit of the Division of AIDS Prevention and Control, while reports of
other communicable diseases are filed with appropriate units within the
Division of Communicable Diseases. Summary reports of cases of communicable
diseases by county of residence and selected demographic characteristics
are provided by these units.
Population figures for 1994 which are presented in this report and used
to calculate various rates are estimates developed by the U. S. Bureau
of the Census for the National Cancer Institute. Estimates were developed
for the state and the twenty-one counties by age, race, Hispanic ethnicity
and sex categories. These estimates may be revised by the Census Bureau,
as a series of estimates for the decade are developed. The current set
of estimates presented in this report have not been rounded. However,
it should not be presumed that they have the degree of accuracy which
such precise figures might imply. Official 1994 population estimates for
New Jersey and its counties are available through the Center for Health
Statistics and through the Division of Labor Market and Demographic Research
of the New Jersey Department of Labor.
Allocation of Data by Residence or Occurrence
For public health planning and policy determination, the most useful population
to study is usually the resident population of an area. In the case of births,
deaths and fetal deaths, the existence of resident certificate exchange
agreements among the registration areas in the country permits analysis
of resident birth and death statistics. Unless otherwise noted, the data
presented for births, deaths and fetal deaths represent vital events of
the resident population. Morbidity data relate to New Jersey residents;
reports of cases of communicable diseases diagnosed in New Jersey residents
in other states are transmitted to the New Jersey Department of Health. Marriage and divorce statistics in this report represent
vital events which occurred in New Jersey, regardless of the state of residence
of the individuals involved.
Allocation of vital events by place of residence within the State is
sometimes difficult because classification depends on the statement of
the usual place of residence provided by the informant at the time the
certificate is completed. For a variety of reasons, the information given
may be incorrectly recorded. A common source of error is the confusion
of mailing address with residence address. The degree to which incorrect
information on residence has been recorded on the certificates is not
precisely known, but this issue is generally a problem only for certain
minor civil divisions. For this reason, municipality data are not presented
in this report.
Quality of Data
The reporting of births and deaths is considered to be essentially complete.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), more than
99 percent of births and deaths are registered. Reporting of fetal deaths
is believed to be somewhat less complete. For later periods of gestation,
however, fetal death reporting is thought to be more complete (NCHS, 1994).
The completeness of reporting by residence is dependent on the effective
functioning of the interstate data exchange program for certificates fostered
and encouraged by NCHS. Research has shown that there is some degree of
slippage in receiving information on all births and deaths of New Jersey
residents occurring in other states. However, the number of missing events
is thought to be small, relative to the overall number of events.
The quality of the birth, death and fetal death data included in this
report is a function of the accuracy and completeness of the information
recorded on the respective certificates and of the quality control procedures
employed in the coding and keying processes. A query program in which
the individual(s) responsible for completing the certificate is questioned
about missing or conflicting information is carried out by staff of the
Bureau of Vital Statistics of the New Jersey Department of Health. This process is augmented by the data quality control
analyses performed by the Center for Health Statistics using all of the
NCHS edit criteria.
In order to participate in the national Vital Statistics Cooperative
Program, states had to achieve an error rate of two percent or less on
each certificate item for three consecutive months. The error rates relate
to both coding and data entry errors. New Jersey has met the error tolerance
requirements for the cooperative program. After satisfying initial requirements,
a monthly sample of records is used to determine that the error rate on
each birth certificate item is approximately four percent or less and
is no more than two percent of each death certificate other than the medical
cause-of-death information. Due to the complexity of the coding system,
cause-of-death coding has a five percent error tolerance level set by
NCHS. Multiple cause-of- death coding of New Jersey death records is performed
by NCHS staff.
Racial And Ethnic Classification
Racial designations used in this report are white, black and other races,
which includes all racial groups other than white or black. The reporting
of ethnicity is limited to Hispanic and non- Hispanic categories. These
classifications are based on self- reports, or in the case of death records,
on reports from respondents, usually a family member, or from persons
responsible for preparing the death certificates. The race and ethnicity
of an infant are not reported on the birth certificate and are classified
for statistical purposes as the race and ethnicity of the mother.
A racial group (white, black or a detailed list of eight other races
and an unknown race category) and an ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic)
are reported for each individual for whom a vital record is filed. Thus
persons who are identified as Hispanic have also been included in any
analysis of data by race, in one of the racial groups or in the race not
stated category, if a racial group is not reported.
Apgar Score -- a summary measure of an infant's clinical condition based
on heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex irritability and
color taken at one and five minutes after delivery. Each of the factors
is given a score of 0, 1, or 2; the sum of these five values is the Apgar
score which can range from 0 to 10. A score of 10 is optimal and a low
score (usually considered to be less than 7) is considered an indication
of potential health problems and raises concerns about the subsequent
health and survival of the infant.
Birth Weight -- the first weight of the fetus or newborn obtained
after delivery. Birth weight is recorded in grams.
Live Birth -- 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 evidence of life,
such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite
movement of voluntary muscles.
Low Birth Weight -- birth weight of less than 2,500 grams or
approximately 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Prior to 1989, New Jersey defined low
birth weight as 2,500 grams or less.
Marital Status -- the marital status of the mother for statistical
purposes is determined for data years after 1988 by the response to the
birth certificate item, "Mother married? (At birth, conception, or any
Medical Risk Factors for This Pregnancy (NCHS, 1996):
Anemia - Hemoglobin level of
less than 10.0 g/dL during pregnancy or a hematocrit of less than
30 percent during pregnancy.
Cardiac Disease - Disease of the
Acute or chronic lung disease - Disease
of the lungs during pregnancy.
Diabetes - Metabolic disorder characterized
by excessive discharge of urine and persistent thirst; includes
juvenile onset, adult onset, and gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Genital herpes - Infection of the
skin of the genital area by herpes simplex virus.
Hydramnios/Oligohydramnios - Any
noticeable excess (hydramnios) or lack (oligohydramnios) of amniotic
Hemoglobinopathy - A blood disorder
caused by alteration in the genetically determined molecular structure
of hemoglobin (example: sickle cell anemia).
Hypertension, chronic - Blood pressure
persistently greater than 140/90, diagnosed prior to onset of
pregnancy or before the 20th week of gestation.
- An increase in blood pressure of at least 30mm Hg systolic or
15 mm Hg diastolic on two measurements taken 6 hours apart after
the 20th week of gestation.
Eclampsia - The occurrence of convulsions
and/or coma unrelated to other cerebral conditions in women with
signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
Incompetent cervix - Characterized
by painless dilation of the cervix in the second trimester or
early in the third trimester of pregnancy, with premature expulsion
of membranes through the cervix and ballooning of the membranes
into the vagina, followed by rupture of the membranes and subsequent
expulsion of the fetus.
Previous infant 4,000+ grams - The
birth weight of a previous live-born child was over 4,000 grams
(8 pounds, 14 ounces).
Previous preterm or small-for-gestational
age infant - Previous birth of an infant prior to term (before
37 completed weeks of gestation) or of an infant weighing less
than the tenth percentile for gestational age using a standard
Renal disease - Kidney disease.
Rh sensitization - The process or
state of becoming sensitized to the Rh factor as when an Rh-negative
woman is pregnant with an Rh-positive fetus.
Uterine bleeding - Any clinically
significant bleeding during the pregnancy taking into consideration
the stage of pregnancy; any second or third trimester bleeding
of the uterus prior to the onset of labor.
Previous Pregnancy Terminations -- from the mother's pregnancy
history on the certificate of live birth, a previous spontaneous or induced
termination of pregnancy at any time after conception that did not result
in a live birth.
Trimester of Pregnancy -- the first trimester includes the first
12 weeks of pregnancy, the second trimester encompasses the thirteenth
through twenty-fourth weeks and the third trimester is the period after
the twenty-fourth week through delivery.
Very Low Birth Weight -- birth weight of less than 1,500 grams
or approximately 3 pounds, 5 ounces.
Cause of Death Classification -- a system of specification of
the diseases and/or injuries which led to death and the sequential order
of their occurrence. The version of the system currently in use is the
International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (1977),
sponsored by the World Health Organization.
Fetal Death -- death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction
from its mother of a product of conception; the fetus shows no signs of
life such as breathing or beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical
cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles. In New Jersey, the law
requires reporting of fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks of gestation.
Infant Death -- death within the first year of life.
Maternal Death -- a death in which the certifying physician has
designated a maternal condition as the underlying cause of death. In the
Ninth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases,
(1977), the World Health Organization defined a maternal death as "the
death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy,
irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause
related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from
accidental or incidental causes".
Neonatal Death -- death of an infant within the first 27 days
Perinatal Mortality -- for purposes of this report, includes
fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks of gestation and neonatal deaths.
Postneonatal Mortality -- death of an infant from 28 days to
one year of life.
Underlying Cause of Death -- the disease or injury which initiated
the train of events leading directly to death or the circumstances of
the unintentional injury or violence which produced the fatal injury.
All cause-of-death data in this report relate to the underlying cause
of death coded from the death certificate.
Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) -- a measure of the number
of years of life not lived by each individual who died before reaching
a predetermined age. For purposes of this report, the predetermined age
is 65. This measure weights deaths at younger ages more heavily than deaths
at older ages; the younger the age at death, the greater the number of
years of potential life lost. The YPLL for a population is computed as
the sum of all the individual YPLL for individuals who died during a specific
Stages of Syphilis (Larsen and Kraus, 1990):
Primary Syphilis -- begins within approximately 30 hours after
infection; a primary chancre usually forms within two through six weeks
of infection. Both treponemal and nontreponemal antibodies appear one
through four weeks after the lesion has formed. Even without treatment,
the lesion usually resolves within two months.
Secondary Syphilis -- occurs within six weeks of healing of the
primary lesion. Disseminated lesions appear that are attributable to systemic
infection. Virtually every organ and tissue of the body are affected.
Whether treated or untreated, the lesions of secondary syphilis usually
resolve within 2 through 10 weeks.
Latent Syphilis -- this stage represents a conversion from an
acute to a chronic infection. After the first year, the host's immune
response suppresses the infection to the point where lesions are not clinically
apparent. A patient with reactive nontreponemal or treponemal tests in
the absence of clinical symptoms is said to have latent syphilis. A patient
is categorized as having early latent syphilis if the serologic tests
of that patient have been nonreactive within the preceding year or if
symptoms suggestive of primary or secondary syphilis were present during
that time. Other patients are considered to have late latent syphilis
and should be evaluated for potential asymptomatic neurosyphilis.
Verified Case of Tuberculosis -- is also referred to as a new
active case of tuberculosis. These cases are characterized by (1) any
bacteriological confirmation of the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
or (2) in the absence of bacteriological confirmation, for a diagnosis
of active pulmonary tuberculosis the patient must present a positive purified
protein derivative (PPD), or must exhibit a positive chest x-ray, or in
the case of children, must be epidemiologically linked to another active
case of tuberculosis. In the case of extrapulmonary tuberculosis, the
patient must show signs of clinical improvement while taking tuberculosis
medication (K. Shilkret, personal communication, 1992).
All Tables in the Report
Not Stated -- an inclusive term used to represent data which
are missing, unknown, not available, or not classifiable.
Rates and Ratios
The presentation of vital statistics in the form of rates and ratios
facilitates comparisons between political subdivisions with populations
of different sizes or between subgroups of a population. Crude rates are
calculated by dividing the number of events of a type that occur to the
residents of an area, e.g., births, deaths, fetal deaths, by the resident
population of an area or subgroup. The events are limited to those that
occur within a specific time period, usually a year, and the population
is, in general, the mid-year estimate of the resident population of the
area, although census counts as of April 1 may be used in decennial census
years. Crude rates are expressed in terms of occurrences within a standard,
rounded population, usually 1,000 or 100,000.
While the denominators for rates consist of the population at risk of
the events included in the numerator (e.g., births, deaths, fetal deaths),
ratios are designed to indicate the relationship between two counts in
which the denominator population is not at risk of the events included
in the numerator. An example of a ratio contained in this report is the
maternal mortality ratio in which the number of deaths due to maternal
causes forms the numerator and the number of live births provides the
In order to compare natality and mortality experience among various
ages and races or between the sexes, rates may be computed for subgroups
of the population. These are referred to as age-, race-, or sex-specific
rates and are calculated by dividing the relevant events within a subgroup
by the population in the subgroup. Death rates from specific causes may
also be calculated, with the numerator consisting of the deaths from the
particular cause in an area and the denominator comprised of the population
at risk of the disease or condition.
The numbers of births and deaths in an area are directly related to
the demographic characteristics of the area's population. In comparing
rates over time or among geographic areas, it is helpful to eliminate
the effects of the differences in the populations' demographic characteristics
on the comparison. This can be accomplished through adjustments of the
rates for the particular characteristics of interest. Since age is the
variable that has the greatest effect on the magnitude of rates (Shryock,
Siegel and Associates, 1976), the most common type of adjustment of rates
is for age. Direct adjustment of vital statistics rates involves application
of existing rates (age-, race-, or sex-specific) to a standard population
to arrive at the theoretical number of events that would occur
in the standard population, at the rates prevailing in the actual population.
These events are then divided by the total number of persons in the standard
population to arrive at an adjusted rate. Adjusted rates are index numbers
and cannot be compared to crude or other actual rates. The use of adjusted
rates is limited to comparison with other adjusted rates, based on the
same standard population. The standard population used in this report
is the United States 1940 standard million, derived from the counts of
the 1940 decennial census.
The definition of rates and ratios used in this report follows. It should
be noted that alternative forms exist for some of these statistics. Some
other states and the federal government may employ different formulae
for the computation of selected rates, in particular, the perinatal and
fetal death rates.
Age-Adjusted Death Rate -- Direct Method-the elimination of the
effect of age on the crude death rates for purposes of comparison with
other rates by applying actual age-specific rates to a standard population.
The resulting death rate in the standard population is age-adjusted and
can be compared to other death rates age-adjusted to the same standard
Age-Specific Birth Rate -- the number of resident live births
to females in a specific age group per 1,000 females in the age group.
Cause-Specific Death Rate -- the number of resident deaths from
a specific cause per 100,000 population.
Crude Birth Rate -- the number of resident live births per 1,000
Crude Death Rate -- the number of resident deaths per 100,000
Divorce Rate -- the number of divorces occurring in an area per
Fetal Death Rate -- the number of resident fetal deaths of 20
or more weeks gestation per 1,000 resident live births plus fetal deaths
of 20 or more weeks of gestation.
General Fertility Rate -- the number of resident live births
per 1,000 females aged 15 through 44 years.
Infant Death Rate -- the number of resident deaths under one
year of age per 1,000 population.
Infant Mortality Rate -- the ratio of the number of deaths to
children less than one year of age in a given year per 1,000 births in
the same year.
Marriage Rate -- the number of marriage certificates issued in
an area per 1,000 population.
Maternal Mortality Ratio -- the number of resident deaths from
complications of pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium per 100,000
resident live births.
Neonatal Death Rate -- the number of resident infant deaths within
the first 27 days of life per 1,000 live births.
Perinatal Death Rate -- the number of resident neonatal deaths
plus resident fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks gestation per 1,000 resident
live births plus fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks gestation.
Postneonatal Death Rate -- the number of resident infant deaths
from 28 days to one year of life per 1,000 live births.
Total Fertility Rate -- the sum of the age-specific birth rates
of women in five-year age groups, multiplied by five. This rate yields
the number of children a cohort of 1,000 women would bear if they experienced
the existing age-specific birth rates throughout their childbearing years.
Caution should be exercised in the interpretation of rates and ratios
based on small numbers. Chance variations in the number of vital events
occurring in sparsely populated areas can cause rates to fluctuate widely
over time. For purposes of analyzing vital statistics rates for small
areas, calculation of three or five-year average rates and other statistical
methodologies for analyzing small numbers may provide more meaningful
The cause-of-death rankings found in this report are based on the list
of 38 cause groups and a residual category employed in the cause-of-death
distributions by race-sex groups and age and by county in the report.
The one exception is that the cause groups Motor Vehicle Fatalities and
Other Unintentional Injuries are combined into a single category, Unintentional
Injuries, for purposes of ranking leading causes of death. As of the publication
of New Jersey Health Statistics, 1992, a minor change was made
in the grouping of certain infectious and parasitic diseases which removed
a few ICD-9 codes that had previously been included in the "Residual"
category and placed them in the "Other Infectious and Parasitic Disease"
grouping. This was done to make the groupings more consistent with NCHS'
presentation of mortality data.
The cause-of-death ranking of infant deaths are based on the NCHS List
of 61 Selected Causes of Infant Death (Singh, G.K., et al., 1996).