Live birth records are compiled from the live birth certificates, which are filed with the Department of Health and Senior Services by state law. The birth certificate system has been in place in Missouri continuously since 1911, although changes in data items and definitions have taken place over the years.

Live birth is defined by statute (MRS-193) as the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a child, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which after such expulsion or extraction, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. The definition is also irrespective of birth weight.

Missouri cooperates with other states in the exchange of live birth records. Therefore birth data for Missouri residents is nearly complete regardless of where the event occurred.

The vital statistics data files are officially closed on April 15 of each year for the prior year’s events. The data files are usually available for analysis sometime by late June.

Live birth certificate data are used in estimating population, for evaluation of maternal and perinatal health, for the study of fertility patterns, and to assist public health officials in the conduct and evaluation of programs.