Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. HC 2.1 Healthy births

04/01/1997

A healthy birth is defined here as a birth with the following characteristics: a five-minute Apgar13 score of nine or more out of ten, weight at birth of at least 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds), a gestational age of at least 37 weeks, and maternal receipt of prenatal care within the first trimester.

Increasing Percentages of Healthy Births. Table HC 2.1 reports the percentage of all births qualifying as healthy births for 1985, 1991 and 1994, by race and ethnic group, and by the mothers marital status and educational background. The table shows an increase in the percentage of all healthy births between 1985 and 1994, as well as increases for each population subgroup presented. The percent of all births qualifying as healthy increased from 59.1 percent to 65.9 percent during that period of time.

Continued Disparities Across Population Subgroups. While healthy births are increasing for all the subgroups presented in Table HC 2.1, there are also persistent disparities across subgroups. For example:

  • In 1994, 49.7 percent of births to black women were defined as healthy, compared to 55.4 percent of births to Hispanic women and 69.8 percent of births to white women.
  • In 1994, 73 percent of births to married women were healthy, compared to 50.6 percent of births to single women.
  • In 1994, 70.1 percent of births to mothers with at least a high school education were healthy, compared to 48.8 percent of births to mothers with less than a high school education (see Figure HC 2.1).

 

Figure HC 1.2 
Percentage of All Births Defined as Healthy,a by Mothers Education: 1994 

HC2_1.GIF

Note: aHealthy birth is defined as follows: 5-minute Apgar score of 9+, birth weight 2,500+ grams, gestational age of 37+ weeks, prenatal care in the first trimester. Source: Special tabulation for 1994 birth data by Sally C. Clarke, National Center for Health Statistics.
 
 

Table HC 2.1 
Percentage of All Births Defined as Healthy,a by Selected Sociodemographic Characteristics: 1985, 1991, and 1994

 
   
1985
1991
1994
 
   
 
 
 
 
Total
59.1
61.1
65.9
 
Race/Ethnicity
  White
62.7
65
69.8
 
  Black
41.5
43.3
49.7
 
  Hispanic
48.6
49.8
55.4
 
Mothers Marital Status
  Married
65
68.6
73
 
  Singleb
37.9
43.1
50.6
 
Mothers Education
  High school or more
64
67.1
70.1
 
  Less than high school
40
43.3
48.8
 
 
Notes: aHealthy birth is defined as follows: 5 - minute Apgar score of 9+, birth weight 2,500+ grams, gestational age of 37+ weeks, prenatal care in the first trimester.  
bSingle status includes mothers who have never been married, or are divorced or widowed. 

Source: 1985 and 1991 data from: Morrison, D.R. (1994). "Healthy Birth Index". Final Report. Submitted to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Indicator Development Project, Child Trends, Inc., Washington, DC, 1994. Special tabulation for 1994 birth data by Sally C. Clarke, National Center for Health Statics.

 

13 The Apgar score is a numerical expression of the physical condition of an infant shortly after delivery. The infant is rated, 0, 1, or 2 on color, heart rate, reflex irritability, muscle tone and breathing. The maximum score is 10, and a score of 4 or less indicates examination and treatment are warranted. As defined in: Apgar, V., Holiday, D.A., James, L.S., Weisbrot, I.N., and C. Berrien. (1953). "Evaluation of the Newborn Infant-2nd Report." Current Research in Anesthesia and Analgesia, Vol. 32: 260-267.
 
 

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