Birth certificates provide important data about a newborn's status, the child's parents, the mother's use of prenatal care, and complications and events during pregnancy. As such, they are a key resource for maternal and child health epidemiology. They also serve as the basis for legal identity. The history, organization, availability, content, uses, and accuracy of birth certificates are summarized in this entry.

In the United States, the annual collection of birth statistics on a national basis began in 1915, with 10 reporting states and the District of Colombia; by 1933, it included the entire country with at least 90% coverage in each state. The standard certificate of live birth was developed in 1900 and has since undergone 12 revisions, with the 1989 and 2003 revisions expanding ...

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