December 2019 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

December 2019

Fetal Death Report Pilot Study

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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) receives about 350 fetal death reports each year. A fetal death report documents the death of a fetus before or during delivery. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, “Fetal death refers to the spontaneous intrauterine death of a fetus at any time during pregnancy. Fetal deaths later in pregnancy (at 20 weeks of gestation or more, or 28 weeks or more, for example) are also sometimes referred to as stillbirths.”

Minnesota Statutes, since August 1, 2005, require reports of fetal deaths “for whom 20 or more weeks of gestation have elapsed”. Hospitals report most of the fetal deaths; some reports come from medical examiner offices. In any case, trained personnel enter fetal death data into MR&C. 

MR&C is the only source of Minnesota fetal death data. Hospitals collect fetal death report data on worksheets. The mother completes one worksheet and a medical professional in attendance at the delivery completes the other. Information collected on the worksheets is not necessarily present in the mother’s medical record.

The Birth Defects Monitoring & Analysis Unit (known hereafter as 'the Unit') at the MDH conducted a small study to assess the quality of fetal death reports in MR&C. The Unit got permission to access fetal death reports in Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) and to abstract the matching maternal medical records at two health systems. They reviewed 43 reports of fetal death occurring between August 2018 and October 2018 and compared MR&C fetal death report information to what they abstracted from the medical records.

Histological placental exam/fetal autopsy

Maternal medical records contained the results of histological placental exams/fetal autopsies; but these results did not make it to fetal death reports in MR&C.

The results of any tissue analysis, autopsy or other postmortem examination explain or provide a clearer understanding of the cause of fetal death.

Fetal cause of death statement

Not updating the fetal death report with results from tissue analyses means that the fetal cause of death may be incomplete. 

The fetal cause of death section is comprised of two parts: Initiating cause/condition and Other significant cause or condition. Sometimes the same "fetal cause of death" information was entered in both sections. Occasionally, 'intrauterine death' was listed as the cause of fetal death.

Overall findings

The reviewers found that the information in most fetal death reports matched the mother’s medical record at the delivery hospital.

However, reviewers could not evaluate the accuracy for some data elements because the information was only on the mother’s worksheet and not in the mother’s medical record. Facilities are not required to retain the worksheets.

If you have any questions about the pilot study, please contact the Birth Defects Monitoring & Analysis Unit at

The study/report was supported in part by an appointment to the Applied Epidemiology Fellowship Program administered by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cooperative Agreement Number 1 NU38OT000297-01-00.

Engaging Medical Examiner Partners

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Project Update

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) is engaging medical examiner offices as part of a project with the CDC/National Center for Health Statistics.

The project goals are to improve drug overdose mortality data and advance interoperability.

OVR wants to learn about medical examiner office business needs and processes, and the challenges in reporting drug overdose causes of death. We also want to know what we can do to improve our service and support.


We have selected regional medical examiner offices for interviews in January and early February 2020. OVR will follow up with those we interview to provide a summary of what we heard.

Open stakeholder meeting

OVR will host a meeting for medical examiners, coroners and their office personnel in April 2020.

We will continue to provide project information in Vital Records News and via GovDelivery. If you have questions about the project or want more information, contact

Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO)

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County vital records professionals are encouraged to join the Office of Vital Records (OVR) at the 2020 MACO Annual Conference. The Vitals Session is on Tuesday, February 11, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., in the Bloomington Room at the DoubleTree Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South, 7800 Normandale Boulevard, Minneapolis. You must register with MACO on the 2020 MACO Annual Conference webpage. Register for the entire conference OR for Tuesday only.

At the Vitals Session:

  • County professionals will present what they learned at the Identity and Security Conference sponsored by the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems. Their topics will include digital identity documents, emerging trends and other burning issues on the national radar.
  • OVR will deliver program and system updates and 1.25 hours of professional development/continuing education, to meet statutory requirements for security training.

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We have questions!

How has your facility solved a registration or certificate issuance problem that might help other vital records partners?

Are you interested in being a guest writer for a future newsletter?

What do you want OVR to write about?

Email your solutions, questions, ideas to Put Vital Records News in the subject line. One of the newsletter staff will contact you for more information.

In other news...

MR&C Customer Support Hours

  • Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019 - Closed
  • Tuesday, December 31, 2019 - 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - Closed
  • Thursday, January 2, 2020 - 8 a.m. -  4:30 p.m.

From the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)


Birth Rates for Teens Aged 15–19 Years, by State — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2018. (PDF)

Quarterly Provisional Estimates for Selected Birth Indicators, 2017-Quarter 2, 2019

Quarterly Provisional Estimates of Infant Mortality, 2016-Quarter 4, 2018

Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts through May 2019

Contact the Office of Vital Records