August Birth Data News


Birth Data News

The U-Word: Reporting "Unknown"

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) requires each state to collect complete and accurate birth data based on national standards. The data is reviewed and each state receives quality edits and various reports from NCHS based on the birth data submitted to them. The most recent report shows that the category “Unknown” is being overused.

Following is a list of data items that report “Unknown” either near or over the tolerance rate of 1%:

  • Did mother receive any prenatal care?
  • Date of first prenatal care visit
  • Date of last prenatal care visit
  • Date last normal menses began
  • Total number of prenatal visits
  • Month of pregnancy prenatal care began
  • Mother’s pre-pregnancy weight
  • Mother’s weight at delivery
  • Mother’s height
  • Infection present/treated this pregnancy
  • Onset of labor

Please be aware of these fields and print the Number of Unknowns on the Birth Record report to see how your facility is doing. If data is not available when the record is created, please note why you have trouble obtaining the data in the notes field at the end of the birth record prior to submitting it in MR&C.

If you have a chronic problem with a particular data field, let us know if it is difficult to:
 --get access to that particular data item
 --get timely information
 --obtain information from a specific provider or clinic

If your hospital is over the 1% tolerance rate in reporting unknowns, an OVR field representative will be contacting you to provide assistance with getting the "Unknown" rate within required national standards.


-Previous pregnancy information

NCHS has noticed a marked increase in the number of previous poor outcomes reported by Minnesota this year (2013). We believe that is in direct proportion to the information presented in our February, 2013 newsletter, and at the Excellence in Birth Registration Conference in May. So, thank you very much for reading and following through!

Unfortunately, our instructions about other pregnancy outcomes (spontaneous or induced losses or terminations, ectopic/tubal pregnancies or abortions) incorrectly linked responses to the other previous poor outcome data field. We’re sorry for the confusion!

Please refer to the NCHS Guide to Completing the Facility Worksheets:

In addition, we will be sending a separate email that contains a table you can follow to report information about previous pregnancies.

Social Security Administration (SSA) File
Babies will NOT get a social security card if: 

  • duplicate records are registered
  • the baby is not named
  • the address is incomplete
  • there are two or more special characters in one line, e.g., Apt #3, 47½ Avenue.


Office of Vital Records (OVR) Contacts

Mailing Address
Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 64499
St. Paul, MN 55164-0499


Registration Support

MR&C Support
651-201-5993 or 1-888-692-2733

State Registrar
Steven Elkins
651-201-5972 or

Deputy State Registrar
Heidi Granlund
651-201-5987 or

Registration Supervisor
Ron Peterson
651-201-4845 or

Fraud Prevention Coordinator
Brenda Shinaul
651-201-5959 or