Births


Source

Statbel, processed by Statistics Flanders

Eurostat


Definitions

Births only refer to the number of live births to women of the legally resident population with an official place of residence (main domicile) in the Flemish Region.

Live births: all children who have shown a sign of life at the time of birth (heartbeat, pulsation of the umbilical cord, breathing, muscle contraction, bending of the limbs, crying or facial expression), excluding stillborn children (see definition of the data source Statbel).
 

Remarks on quality

Statbel reports on its public website: "The statistics on births and fertility are drawn up on the basis of two sources: the declaration forms for births at the municipal civil registry and the National Register [of natural persons]. The first source is the most important and most extensive one. It provides a lot of information on all the children born in the country (de facto births) and on their parents. The second source is the fastest. However, it only provides information on the births of children whose mother is registered in the National Register. By combining these two sources and using the National Register as a basic source from 2010 on, the statistics only record live births to women legally resident in Belgium, regardless of whether these births take place in Belgium or abroad. These births are broken down according to the administrative units of the country, according to the main characteristics of the mother and according to certain characteristics of the newborn child. A number of fertility indicators can also be derived from it. In this way, it is possible to position the level and evolution of the country's demographic dynamics."
See: https://statbel.fgov.be/nl/themas/bevolking/geboorten-en-vruchtbaarheid#documents

The declaration of birth forms (with the municipal civil registry and the National Register) are in the first place centralised at the level of the regions and communities. They contain much more information about the births, including medical data, than is stored in the National Register. The Agency for Care and Health is authorised by the Government of Flanders to process these declaration forms (under the supervision of appointed physician officials). They therefore form the basis for birth statistics provided by the Agency for Care and Health.

The declaration forms provide additional information to complement what is already stored in the National Register (birth rank of the child, level of education of the child's mother, etc.). Sometimes there is conflicting information from both sources (e.g. about the age of the mother, her place of residence or her nationality); in such cases Statbel gives priority to the information in the National Register.  

The final official statistics on births (and also on deaths) can only be drawn up after the information intended for transfer to Statbel, contained in the birth declaration forms, reaches the Belgian Statistical Office. This explains why provisional figures are also published in addition to the final figures. It is a compromise between the need for completeness and accuracy of the statistics on the one hand and timeliness on the other.  

The coordination of all registrations for compiling the official birth statistics is the responsibility of Statbel. Therefore, the various federal and regional partners involved meet regularly to better align their activities (see the meetings of the COD (Causes of Death) Working Group). 

Statbel only considers ‘official births', i.e. newborns whose mothers were legally resident in Belgium (or its regions) at the time of birth and are considered to be part of the legally resident population (with the exception of the waiting register for asylum seekers). This is based (since 2010) on the registers for the legally resident population in the National Register of Natural Persons (NR) as a reference source.  
Births to mothers who do not belong to the 'legally resident population' of Belgium (diplomats, visiting persons, persons without valid residence permits, persons registered in the waiting register for asylum seekers, etc.) are not included in the official birth statistics. Births of children born abroad to mothers legally resident in Belgium (and for the Flemish Region, for example, children born in the Walloon Region) are included.

The federal government reports periodically on the statistics regarding births (and deaths) to various international bodies, including Eurostat and the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

The Child and Family Agency (Kind en Gezin) also produces its own birth statistics based on its own birth records in Flanders (births in the Flemish Region and partly in the Brussels-Capital Region as well). These statistics provide important additional and more precise information for their purpose.

The Agency for Care and Health is responsible for the correct registration of births based on the declaration forms/certificates provided for births (and deaths). The verified data are then transferred to Statbel according to current standards and procedures.

The Study Centre for Perinatal Epidemiology (SPE), subsidised by the Agency for Care and Health, is also a partner for compiling birth statistics, particularly with regard to the medical aspects of childbirth and the health of mother and child. These perinatal data/activities are registered separately by the SPE, in collaboration with the Flemish maternity clinics and based on the registrations of the federal e-Birth system (the new national electronic birth declaration system). A detailed annual report is published on this subject.


References

Agency for Care and Health (AZG): Figures - Birth and delivery

e-Birth: electronic birth declaration system

Eurostat: database

Child and Family Agency (Kind en Gezin): Figures and reports

National Register: National register of natural persons

Statbel: Births and fertility

Study Centre for Perinatal Epidemiology (SPE): Key trends in birth and delivery


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