January 2018 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

January 2018

What are the top baby names for 2017? It depends…


Most years local news organizations across the state report on top baby names. However, rather than simply report the names that were given most frequently, OVR asked the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics to consider other factors. They found few differences based on mother’s education, marital status, and address. However, names differed significantly based on the mother’s race and ethnicity. Parents self-identify their race and ethnicity on their child’s birth record. The mother’s race and ethnicity is used in statistics as a “proxy” for the child’s race and ethnicity.

Last year there were 70,192 births to Minnesota residents and 70% of those births were to white women. For that reason it is no surprise that the top baby names overall matched the most frequently used names for whites. Top names in other major race/ethnic groups across Minnesota do not overlap much (see list below). Evelyn was the top girl’s name overall, as well as the most popular girl's name given by white parents and the second most popular name given by Asian parents. Olivia was number two overall, number three for white girls, and number one for Asian girls. Sofia/Sophia made the top five for both Hispanic and Asian girls, as did Isabella. Isabelle was number five for American Indian girls.

Oliver was the top boys baby name overall and for white boys, while it was number two for Hispanic, non-Mexican boys and for Asian non-Hmong boys. Jayden also made the top five for both Hispanic and Asian boys.

Births to Mexican women account for nearly 75% of Hispanic births. Excluding births to Mexican women, the top baby names are still nearly the same as for all Hispanic births. For Hispanic non-Mexican girls, Valentina replaces Isabella in the top five. If Sofia and Sophia are combined, Ashley makes the top five for births to all Hispanics and for non-Mexican Hispanics. For Hispanic non-Mexican boys Oliver and David replace Gabriel and Jayden in the top five.

Births to Somali women make up 30% of births to Black/African women. Excluding births to Somali women, the top baby names are still nearly the same as for all Black/African births. For African non-Somali girls, four of the top five names are different. Similarly, for African non-Somali boys, four of the top five names are different.

Births to Hmong women make up nearly 59% and Indian women 17% of births to Asian women. Excluding births to Hmong women, the top baby names are still nearly the same as for all Asian births. For Asian girls, the top five includes two names that were tied for fifth place. For Asian non-Hmong girls, the only difference is that Isabella and Luna were replaced by Sophia and Zoey. For Asian non-Hmong boys, only Aiden and Jayden remain in the top five.

On a related note, Mohamed is among the most popular baby boy names in St. Cloud—a reflection of growing diversity in the community. Read the story in the Star Tribune.


New Birth Certificate Application: a step toward standardization

On January 4, 2018, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) released a new version of the Birth Certificate Application for statewide public use.

In developing the newly released Birth Certificate Application, OVR incorporated feedback from County Vital Records Offices (CVRO), customers and the public. The application uses plain language to explain public and confidential birth records and, who has the legal right to obtain each type of birth record. Branded with the new Minnesota logo, the form is dated 12/2017 in the lower corner of the page.

Ideally, County Vital Records Offices would use the new birth certificate application in its entirety, but OVR recognizes that CVROs may not accept credit card payments or offer rush processing or delivery.

To move Minnesota closer to providing uniform service to customers who request birth certificates, here are some options:

  • Customize the new form using the Word version of the Birth Certificate Application available from kirsti.taipale@state.mn.us. Already, 45 counties have requested the Word version.
  • Use page one of the MDH Birth Certificate Application and develop county-specific instructions for fees and additional services.
  • Update your county-developed birth certificate application with the tangible interest section from the MDH Birth Certificate Application.

CVROs need to take action by January 31, 2018:

  • Use the new birth certificate tangible interest section and customize the payment and services portion of the birth certificate application your office uses at the counter and on your county website.
  • Inform OVR of the action your office took. Supply OVR with a copy or link to your form if you choose not to use the MDH Birth Certificate Application.
  • Remove and recycle old birth certificate applications from public use.

Note: The Word version of the Birth Certificate Application available from OVR is not fillable. CVROs may make the document fillable by following Microsoft Word instructions at Create a fillable form.

OVR knows that many requests for birth certificates come from staff in county human and social services programs. The law allows some of these programs to have data and certificates from confidential records. OVR is revising the form that representatives of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) which extends to county programs, use for DHS-related birth certificate requests.

For additional details, see Statewide Birth Certificate Application Requires County Action .

Infant mortality varies widely across the U.S.

The National Center for Health Statistics released a new data brief which shows the wide variations in infant mortality rates by state and by race and Hispanic origin of the mother.

Key findings of the report are:

• In 2013–2015, the infant mortality rate by state ranged from 4.28 per 1,000 live births in Massachusetts to 9.08 in Mississippi.

• Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.), the mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic white women ranged from 2.52 in D.C. to 7.04 in Arkansas.

• For infants of non-Hispanic black women, the mortality rate ranged from 8.27 in Massachusetts to 14.28 in Wisconsin.

• The mortality rate for infants of Hispanic women ranged from 3.94 in Iowa to 7.28 in Michigan.

See the full data brief at State Variations in Infant Mortality by Race and Hispanic Origin of Mother, 2013–2015

Annual training for County Vital Records Offices

OVR invites all county and local vital records staff to participate in a training session the afternoon of February 12 at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington. This learning opportunity is a separate educational event offered in association with the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) Winter Conference. There is no fee for the training, but OVR requires registration. Send an email to ann.porwoll@state.mn.us and tell her if you plan to attend. The agenda and speakers for the session are not quite finalized, so watch the Information for County Vital Records Offices webpage for updates.

OVR will also present Vital Records Operations: Building Capacity and Strengthening our Framework at the MACO Vitals Session, Tuesday, February 13 from 8:00-10:00 a.m. Register to attend the MACO conference and join subject matter-experts for a session that focuses on building capacity and knowledge in the vital records workforce. Learn how to craft communications to deal with sensitive topics, media requests, and difficult conversations. Get the legal perspective and gain understanding on how to apply statutes and rules to every day operations and to particularly complicated requests for data and documents. Gather information on hot topics related to vital records and statewide service delivery and get updates on legislative initiatives from the MACO Vitals Committee.


Michael Schommer, Communications Director, Minnesota Department of Health

Arden Fritz, Legal Affairs Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Health

Molly Crawford, State Registrar, Office of Vital Records, Minnesota Department of Health

Becky McCann, Jackson County Recorder

Joan Boesen, Supervisor, Olmsted County Vital Records/Licensing

Briefly speaking...

Red Lake Indian Reservation Names Coroner

Red Lake Comprehensive Health Services has contracted with Dr. Anuma K Ulu to perform the functions of coroner for deaths that occur on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. The Red Lake Indian Reservation has been without a coroner since Dr. Paul Ditmanson retired  in early 2017. Having a coroner meandeath records can be finished, families will be able to get death certificates without delay, and funeral homes will have timely authorizations for cremation. The contract runs through December 31, 2018.

Football a factor for Hennepin County Medical Examiner Operations

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner, which provides services for Hennepin, Dakota, and Scott Counties, is moving forensic operations out of downtown Minneapolis during the Super Bowl 52 festivities. Operations are affected January 28 through February 5. See the Super Bowl fact sheet on the Medical Examiner's office website for detailed information.

MR&C Customer Support Hours

Monday, January 15th - closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day

Tuesday, January 16th - OVR required staff meeting, 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

St. Cloud to host next birth registration class

The Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records is offering Birth Registration 101 on January 30, 2018. The class runs from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at CentraCare Health in St. Cloud, 1406 6th Ave North, St. Cloud, MN  56303, with a break for lunch on your own.

Birth Registration 101 is foundational training required for ALL birth registrars. OVR expects this training and a separate online course to be completed within six months of becoming a registrar.

Future Birth Registration 101 classes are scheduled for: 

  • April 12, 2018 in St. Paul, MN
  • July 24, 2018 in Rochester, MN
  • October 16, 2018 in St. Paul, MN

Register for any of the classes above by sending an email to health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us with Birth Registration 101 in the subject line. In the body of the email, include the date of the class you wish to attend, your full name, the name of the facility where you register births and your work email address and phone number. 


Do you or your customers need to contact OVR?

Your customers

To provide the best service, please direct "the public" to the Office of Vital Records (OVR) Help Desk: 651-201-5970. The Help Desk team responds to calls Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on holidays. The public may also contact OVR at health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us .

Vital Records Program Community

651-201-5993 is the best number for birth registrars, medical certifiers, designated staff, morticians, and funeral staff to call when having questions or issues with MR&C.

County Vital Records Office personnel with questions or issues about MR&C, tangible interest or acceptable identification should call 651-201-5998

MR&C users may also email health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us with questions or issues.

Please review and update the OVR contacts information you maintain. OVR contact information has changed over the past year – resolve to make contacting OVR easier for yourself and your customers.

To contact the Office of Vital Records, click below