Could an Updated Revision of the U.S. Standard Birth Certificate Be the Research Tool to Find the Causes of Developmental Disability?

Adult hand holding infant's hand

This is a call to revise the current U.S. Standard Certificate of Life Birth (last revised 2003) to be more specific in documentation and for a more scientific approach to collect vital statistical data from before, during and after birth of each citizen born in the U.S.

We agree that the standard should include that which is necessary for legal, research, statistical or public health programs and be reasonable in completeness and accuracy, however the current standard could be far more specific and detailed.

In addition to what is on the current form, for example, we suggest consideration of data to include:

-ALL neurological dysfunctions, not only “serious dysfunctions or seizure.”
-ALL birth injuries, not only “significant” injuries.
-ALL medicines, anesthetics, analgesics and stimulants used, including specific doses.
-Name and dosage of stimulants used for induction or augmentation of labor.
-Name or type of analgesics or anesthetics used in addition to those currently required.

-A place to clarify Apgar score.
-A place to add specific information about presentation at birth or if other abnormal conditions are present to list them in addition to the ‘check the box’ choices.

With ongoing advances in automation of record keeping, medical and data collection, agencies at the local, state, and federal level will be better able to be much more efficient in updating to a revised standard. (1)

Collecting data at birth is crucial to research, the current birth certificate is far to vague, we have the means to do a far more scientific job of data collection of before, during and after birth.

The time to act is today! Let’s revise the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth.

What other road blocks in collecting data for research do we face to find the causes of Developmental Disabilities so we might prevent disability?

If you have information about the prevention of disability, please comment or send us an e-mail.

New Horizons Un-Limited invites you to visit our Report on the Prevention of Disabilities which focuses on the prevention of Developmental Disabilities.


(1) Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Letter 08/29/2001, To Colleague, From Mary Anne Freedman, Director, Division of Vital Statistics.

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