Birth, Death, Fetal Death, and Infant Death
Vital Statistics Data Files are compiled from the information reported on
birth, death, and fetal death certificates, including detailed demographic
information related to the infant, mother, and father (for births and fetal
deaths) or decedent (for deaths), as well as medical data related to the vital
event. These data files are released in a variety of versions, with and without
personal identifiers, in order to provide maximum protection to
the confidentiality of the individuals named on the certificates. Unless there
is a specific need for personal identifiers, non-confidential data files without
personal identifiers should be utilized.
Personal identifiers are those fields on the data files such as
names and other fields that could identify an individual. In addition,
data obtained from the "confidential" portion of the birth and fetal death
certificates are protected by law from use for all but specific purposes. Users
of vital statistics files for research purposes must obtain approvals from the
Health and Human Services Agency's Committee for the Protection of Human
Subjects (CPHS) and/or the California Department of
Public Health Vital Statistics Advisory Committee (VSAC) in order to use
birth, fetal death, or death files for research purposes. Once the files are
obtained, users must follow strict guidelines to protect the confidentiality of
The data files are stored on CD-ROM and contain raw data in American Standard Code Information Interchange (ASCII) format. These files are not comma-delimited and no software is included on the CD-ROM. However, file documentation and record layouts are provided with the CD-ROMs. Users must utilize a statistical database package (such as SAS or SPSS) in order to analyze the files.
Individual data are presented in a variety of forms (e.g., counts, rates, ratios, percent distributions), for different geographic levels (nation, state, county, city health department, ZIP code), and time periods (e.g., annual, multi-year trends). The most currently prepared tables are available at the links below.