October 2017 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

October 2017

BABE Project — Report and Recommendations

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) launched the BABE Project – Beginnings and Beyond Engagement – on March 1, 2016, to gather information about the birth registration process, learn how birth data helps to accomplish public health objectives and to support the advancement of health equity. OVR also wanted to understand why “Unknown” responses to data items for mothers’ race, ethnicity, education level, and cigarette use before and during pregnancy had been increasing over the previous three years. Mothers self-report these data items during the birth registration process.

During the same three years that “Unknown” responses were trending upward for some items self-reported by mothers, awareness about how determinants of health (social, economic and behavioral factors) create health was growing.  

OVR engaged key stakeholders: hospital staff who collect birth data, public health professionals who use birth data, and the mothers who provide the data. Through this cross-section of communities, we examined the processes, tools, and attitudes involved in providing, collecting, maintaining, and using vital records birth data.

A key deliverable of the BABE project was revising the “Mother’s Worksheet”, the primary tool in gathering the mother’s self-reported information. Because the new worksheet has little room for explaining why the information is collected, OVR created an instruction cover sheet to complement the worksheet. In early October, the new Worksheet for creating your child’s birth record and Instructions to register your child’s birth were ready for statewide use. Using the same worksheet across Minnesota promotes data quality and integrity, and is an important step in creating the birth record and informing public health.

Although the BABE project didn’t set goals to reduce the percentage of unknown responses for the four self-reported data items, unknown responses for mothers’ race, ethnicity, and cigarette use before and during pregnancy decreased (see the graph below). OVR is monitoring the trend on these as well as other data items based on performance reports from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which sets and monitors data quality standards for birth records in the United States.

See the Beginnings and Beyond Engagement (BABE) Birth Registration Project Report and Recommendations (PDF) for more information.

graph of demographic items studied

Tax Credit for Parents of Stillborn Children

Year One

Starting in tax year 2016, parents who experienced the stillbirth of a child in Minnesota were eligible for a $2000 tax credit. Parents may have qualified for the credit if:

  • the stillbirth of their child occurred during the tax year
  • a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth was issued for that child
  • the child would have been claimed as a dependent if the child had been born alive
  • they filed Minnesota Schedule M1PSC, Credit for Parents of Stillborn Children 2016

The tax credit is available for each stillbirth that is required to be reported to OVR. Thus, if parents experienced the fetal deaths of twins, they would have been eligible to claim $4,000.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Revenue collaborated to operationalize the tax credit after the bill passed early in 2016. In September this year, the two departments met to review the validation process and findings after the first tax year of the credit to consider improvements for future years.

The Department of Revenue received and processed over 200 claims for the Credit for Parents of Stillborn Children during the 2016 tax filing “season”. Full-year residents filed most of the claims for the credit, and some part-year residents claimed a partial tax credit, as allowed by Minnesota Statutes, section 290.0685. This means that nearly half of the fetal deaths that qualified for the tax credit resulted in parents who received the credit.

Only fetal deaths that are required to be reported under Minnesota law qualify for the tax credit. Unlike birth and death certificates, county vital records offices do not issue Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. These certificates are issued by the Office of Vital Records. Applications and information about the Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth are available on the Minnesota Department of Health Requesting a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth webpage.

Tax forms and detailed instructions about the Credit for Parents of Stillborn Children are available on the Minnesota Department of Revenue - Credit for Parents of Stillborn Children website.

Security paper contract renewed

The Office of Vital Records renewed the state contract for security paper with Ameritech/Northstar. This contract allows all Minnesota vital records offices to order paper as needed and benefit from volume pricing. The renewal, effective October 1, 2017, continues the same security features for Minnesota birth and death certificates. County and local offices may order paper directly from Northstar. Please follow the instructions and use the forms on the Security Paper webpage.

Death verifications

Did you know that the Office of Vital Records hosts a webpage named Minnesota Death Search 1997 to the Present? This tool may be just what a county assessor needs. County child support personnel may also find the tool useful in case management.

Electronic death registration started in 1997 so anyone may use this “lookup” to verify a death occurring after 1996. Although the index updates in real-time, some records do not appear in the index until weeks or even months following the death because not all death registrations happen immediately after the event.

The person looking to verify a death only needs the first and last name of the deceased, and the date of birth or the deceased’s Social Security Number.

Vital Records Data in the News

Minnesota’s drug overdose deaths continued to rise in 2016

Minnesota’s total number of drug overdose deaths continued to climb in 2016, with heroin taking an increasing toll in the Twin Cities and methamphetamine deaths on the rise in Greater Minnesota. Read more on the Minnesota Department of Health News and Announcements website: Minnesota’s drug overdose deaths continued to rise in 2016 

Parents, the time is now – it’s Let’s Talk Month

Minnesota has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country after years of fewer teen pregnancies. There has been a 71 percent decrease in teen pregnancies since 1990 from 59 pregnancies per 1,000 teen females to 17 pregnancies per 1,000 teen females in 2016. Read more on the Minnesota Department of Health News and Announcements website: Parents, the time is now – it’s Let’s Talk Month.

Births in the United States, 2016

This report presents several key demographic and maternal and infant health indicators using 2016 final birth data. Trends in the general fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15–44), age-specific birth rates, cesarean delivery, preterm, and triplet and higher-order multiple birth rates are presented by age of mother. For each indicator, data for 2016 are compared with 2015, and also with a year representing a recent high or low rate. Read more in the NCHS Data Brief, No. 287, September 2017 on the CDC website: Births in the United States, 2016.

Office of Vital Records in the Community

Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants Fall CME Conference, Introduction to Vital Records and Cause of Death with Dr. A. Q. Strobl. October 19–21, 2017, Duluth, MN

Birth Registration 101, Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, from 8 a.m. to noon. Sorry, this class is FULL, but you may contact OVR to put your name on a waiting list.

Five Rs of Death Registration, Thursday, November 9, 2017 at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, from 9 a.m. to noon.  To attend, email health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us with 'Five Rs' in the subject line.

Birth Registration Training via Skype, Friday, December 15, 2017. To participate, email health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us with

To contact the Office of Vital Records, click below