Baby shower

Babies, babies, babies.

Last year Minnesota recorded 72,216 little bundles of joy who arrived at the state’s 109 birthing facilities. That’s more than 72,000 bundles of paperwork that must be electronically submitted and registered with the Office of the State Registrar at the Minnesota Department of Health.

(The adorable baby in the photo belongs to newsroom colleague Gretchen Schlosser and her husband, Brent. Ian Michael was born May 24, 2009, at Rice Memorial Hospital. He has an older brother, August, who’ll be turning 4 this fall.)

I never realized it before, but apparently it’s a rather involved process to get newborns registered with the state. Hospitals and birthing centers are supposed to send information on each birth to the state registrar within five days after the birth. The information needs to be accurate and complete. The paperwork also includes data on immunizations, whether the mom used tobacco during pregnancy, and other indicators that help measure child and maternal health.

The information is compiled by the Minnesota Department of Health as part of its annual tracking of births, deaths, infant mortality and other important measures of population health. The state Health Department, as well as county public health agencies and other providers, then can use the information to determine how well they’re doing and whether there are additional local needs that should be met in order to ensure the state’s youngest citizens get a healthy start in life. A spike in the number of pre-term births, for instance, might prompt a closer look at why this is happening and what can be done to reduce it.

Hospitals and birthing centers obviously are key players in collecting quality data at its source – from families themselves when their newborn arrives.

Thirty-nine Minnesota hospitals stand out for their accurate and timely registration of births. The list of facilities that received "Excellence in Birth Registration" awards earlier this year includes Appleton Municipal Hospital, Johnson Memorial Hospital of Dawson, Paynesville Area Hospital, Redwood Area Hospital, and Rice Memorial Hospital of Willmar.

They had to meet or exceed several criteria, including the completion of 92 percent of all birth registrations within five days. They also had to comply with quality standards set by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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