New Estimates of Death Rates for Seven Selected Causes of Death for the First Quarter of 2015

August 19, 2015

NCHS has started a new Vital Statistics Rapid Release (VSRR) program that provides access to the most timely vital statistics for public health surveillance, through 1) pilot releases of Quarterly Provisional Estimates and 2) Special Reports based on a current flow of vital statistics data from state vital records offices. Using the provisional data, NCHS is able to produce much more timely estimates of important health indicators for public health practitioners, researchers, and health policy-makers than would be possible using final annual data.

In this first pilot release of Quarterly Provisional Estimates, NCHS presents estimates of death rates for seven selected causes of death for 2013 and 2014 and the first quarter of 2015. This is the first public release of any mortality data for 2014 or 2015. The estimates are based on all death records received and processed by NCHS as of June 21, 2015, and will be updated each quarter as new provisional mortality data become available. The seven selected causes of death included in this pilot release are influenza and pneumonia, heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, falls (for persons aged 65 and over), stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. These causes have been selected based on their importance for public health surveillance and the feasibility of rapidly producing accurate estimates using the available provisional data. The causes are limited to seven in this first release to maximize timeliness.

Additional causes of death based on provisional mortality data, such as cancer, suicide, and drug poisoning-related deaths, may be added in upcoming quarterly releases after evaluation using the same criteria. Selected estimates based on provisional birth data will also be added in future releases after evaluation.


Measuring Gestational Age in Vital Statistics Data: Transitioning to the Obstetric Estimate

June 1, 2015

Beginning with the 2014 data year, NCHS is transitioning to a new standard for estimating the gestational age of a newborn. The new measure, the obstetric estimate of gestation at delivery (OE), replaces the measure based on the date of the last normal menses (LMP). This transition is being made because of increasing evidence of the greater validity of the OE compared with the LMP-based measure.

A new NCHS report describes the relationship between the two measures. Agreement between the two measures is shown for 2013. Comparisons between the two measures for single gestational weeks and selected gestational age categories for 2013, and trends in the two measures for 2007–2013 by gestational category, focusing on preterm births, are shown for the United States and by race and Hispanic origin and state.

Data are derived from U.S. birth certificates for 2007–2013 for 100% of reported resident births.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Estimates of pregnancy length were the same for the OE-and LMP-based measures for 62.1% of all births, and within 1 week for 83.4% in 2013.
  • The mean OE-based gestational age for all 2013 births was 38.5 weeks, lower than the LMP-based average of 38.7.
  • Births were less likely to be classified as preterm using the OE (9.62%) than with the LMP (11.39%). The 2013 OE preterm rate was lower than the LMP rate for 49 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The OE-based percentage of full-term deliveries was higher than the LMP-based percentage; levels of late-term and postterm deliveries were lower. Preterm birth rates declined for both measures from 2007 through 2013 (8% compared with 10%).
  • The OE-based 2013 preterm infant mortality rate was 19% higher than the LMP rate.

New Mobile App Provides Up-to-Date U.S. Health Statistics on the Go

February 11, 2015

The National Center for Health Statistics announces the launch of FastStats, a mobile version of NCHS’s FastStats website that provides on-the-go access to current statistics on topics of public health importance.

FastStats for iOS puts access to topic-specific NCHS content at the fingertips of health care providers and clinicians. Topics include diseases and conditions, injuries, life stages and populations, health care and insurance, and birth and mortality data for each U.S. state and territory. Content is updated automatically when the device is connected to the internet, giving the user the most up-to-date health statistics available.

FastStats is optimized to give users the ability to personalize their mobile experience, including highlighting, annotations, and bookmarks. Users can also share their data discoveries with colleagues through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

FastStats is the first mobile application to be released by NCHS. It is currently available from Apple’s App Store for iOS 6.0 and later. An Android version is currently in development.

Updates to Stats of the States

January 27, 2014

NCHS has new updates to Stats of the States that caputures vital statistics for all 50 states.