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Step 1. Identifying and Obtaining Existing Health Data

  • Types of Data


Birth certificates

Birth certificates sometimes contain information about obvious birth defects or malformations.

For specific information on birth certificates, visit the National Center for Health Statistics/Birth Data website.

Birth defects registries

Birth defects registries provide information on birth defects that are obvious at birth. They may also provide information on defects that might not be diagnosed until a later time.

For specific information on birth defects surveillance and registries, visit the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities .

Fetal death reports

Fetal death reports sometimes provide information about the cause of fetal death. For specific information on fetal death reports, visit the National Center for Health Statistics/Fetal Deaths website.

Death certificates

Death certificates contain information on the cause of death, although they might not contain information on other illnesses that might have contributed to death or to overall health of the individual.

For specific information on death certificates, view the   Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System .
The CDC maintains mortality files (see Health, United States, 2004 .)

Disease registries

Disease registries contain information about cases of specifically diagnosed illnesses (for instance, cancer) or, in some instances, on self-reported illnesses. The data might be available only on those people who have died from the disease (mortality data) or on people who have the disease (morbidity data), or for both.

For information on chronic diseases (including cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, asthma, etc.) visit the Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System Website, and the CDC WONDER Website.

Cancer registries

Cancer registries contain statistical data on cancer cases. Some state cancer registries contain only mortality data, some contain morbidity data, and some contain both mortality and morbidity data.

For specific information on cancer data sources and registries, visit the NCHS Fast Stats/Cancer web site.

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