Vital Statistics Annual Report

Technical Appendix


The birth, death, and fetal death tabulations provided in this report are Texas resident data. Births and fetal deaths are classified by the mother's county and city of residence. Deaths are classified by the county and city of residence of the decedent. Marriages are reported by the county in which the marriage license was issued and divorces are reported by the county in which the divorce decree was granted.  

Births, deaths, and fetal deaths which occurred in Texas to residents of other states are excluded from these tabulations. Events which occurred to Texas residents, regardless of the place of occurrence, are included. A small percentage of Texas resident events occur in other states and knowledge of these events is obtained through an interstate transcript exchange in cooperation with other states and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Birth data include date and place of birth; county and city of mother’s residence; mother's marital status; age, race, Hispanic origin, and education of the parents; sex and birthweight of the infant; month of pregnancy in which prenatal care began; number of prenatal care visits; length of gestation; and method of delivery. Beginning in 1989, in order to conform to NCHS standards, births have been tabulated by the self-stated race and Hispanic origin of the mother.

Mortality data include date and place of death, the decedent’s county and city of residence, age at death, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, birthplace, and causal conditions or circumstances which led to or contributed to death. When death results from an external cause (accident, suicide, homicide), further information is collected on the circumstances of the injury, including whether the injury was sustained while at work.

The coding system used for establishing cause of death is The Tenth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). All causes listed on a death certificate are categorized and coded according to this guide. Underlying cause of death is then determined through the use of a computer algorithm, Automated Classification of Medical Entities (ACME), developed by the National Center for Health Statistics.

In order to register a birth, the physician, the midwife (or person acting as midwife), or the mother or father of the child must file a certificate of birth with the local registrar of the district in which the birth occurred within five days of the birth. In order to register a death, the person (undertaker, funeral director) in charge of interment or of removal of the body from the registration district is responsible for filing a certificate of death with the local registrar no later than ten days after the date of death. A fetal death certificate must be filed if the period of gestation is determined to be twenty weeks or more; the certificate must be filed with the local registrar within five days of the date of fetal death by the institution or person who is responsible for the disposition of the fetal remains.

The local registrar in the county in which the event occurs keeps a copy of each certificate and forwards the original to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit (VSU), where they are checked for completeness and accuracy by the Records Receiving and Nosology Divisions of the Vital Statistics Unit, and by the Center for Health Statistics

The Vital Statistics Unit's divorce data are collected from reports of divorce filed by the District Courts and a few county courts-at-law with family practice. The Texas Judicial System records all civil court activity at county and district levels. Comparing VSU divorce totals to those reported by the Texas State Judicial System between 1985 and 1989, VSU statewide annual totals were about 10% less than those of the Judicial System.

Certificates for events which occurred during calendar year 2003 and which were received at the Vital Statistics Unit by the statistical cutoff date (May 27, 2004 for births, deaths, fetal deaths, and divorces; July 21, 2004 for marriages) comprise the birth, death, fetal death, marriage and divorce statistical files. Although Texas civil statutes require timely reporting of vital events, a very small percentage of all certificates filed for a given calendar year will not be received in time for inclusion in the statistical data sets for that year.

Statewide and county birth and death rates for this annual report are based on Texas population estimates provided by the Texas State Data Center, Population Estimates and Projections Program.

Ethnic designations employed for the majority of tables in this report are white, black, Hispanic and other. These classifications are derived from information supplied by the parents in the case of a birth or by the informant in the case of a death.



Return to the 2003 Annual Report

Center for Health Statistics

Last updated April 3, 2019