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Births in Scottish Hospitals

Maternity and Births

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland


Maternity Data Source (inpatients and day cases)

Hospital based maternity and birth data are derived from the maternity inpatient and day case record (SMR02).


In Scotland the most reliable number of births is based on the civil registration system administered by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). However, GROS numbers are based on the date of registration of the births rather than the date of birth, so that a child born in late December of one year may not be registered until the following year. The data presented on these web pages are derived from SMR02 (maternity hospital records) and are based on date of discharge from hospital. Unlike civil registrations, there is no legal requirement to complete the maternity return, with under-recording of home births being one area for particular concern.

Coverage and completeness

Since 1976 the SMR02 system has achieved national coverage of 98 per cent of all births and pregnancies and includes a wide range of clinical data such as birthweight, gestational age, mode of delivery, induction and outcome of pregnancy. More recently, information on smoking during pregnancy (1993/94) and drug and alcohol misuse (2003/04) has been introduced. There are, however, concerns about the completeness and accuracy of the recording of these variables. See note below on issues regarding smoking data. Information on drug misuse in pregnancy and on babies discharged from neonatal care can be found in the Drug Misuse Statistics Scotland report.

Delivery records account for approximately half of all SMR02 discharges each year with antenatal, postnatal and abortion episodes forming the remaining discharges (see also Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion Act Statistics).

Tables in this website which are based on SMR02 information exclude home births. Detailed birth information about the fourth or subsequent babies (third prior to 1997) in a multiple delivery is also not available from this source, as the SMR02 can only facilitate the recording of information on three babies (two prior to 1997).

The data for year ending 31 March 2009 should be regarded as provisional and will be revised at the update next year. Throughout this publication, figures shown for each year relate to live births, still births, maternities, or pregnancies which occurred in the year ending 31 March.

Data issues

On April 1st 2006 the configuration of NHS Boards was changed with NHS Argyll & Clyde being dissolved. The larger part of its area moved into NHS Greater Glasgow with the remainder moving to NHS Highland. The published tables include separate tabs showing the new configuration of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde from year ending 31st March 1998 to the present, and another tab showing the old configuration of NHS Greater Glasgow and NHS Argyll & Clyde for the earlier years.

Data for 2006/2007 have been revised following the deletion of around 500 duplicate records from NHS Tayside. This now results in a shortfall for NHS Tayside which cannot be resolved. As a consequence, there is also a small impact on surrounding NHS Board area figures.

Population data used for calculating age specific rates are provided by The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS).

Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2009 (SIMD 2009)

In a change to the previous SIMD analyses, the 2009 version have been reversed to match the English version. Deprivation quintile 1 is now the most deprived and deprivation quintile 5, the least deprived.

Accuracy of Smoking Data

Data on smoking behaviour is based on self-reported information obtained from mothers at their ante-natal booking visit in the community or at hospital. The 'smoking at booking' data item was introduced in 1993/94 and it should be noted that, particularly in the earlier years and again more recently, this information is not always recorded and therefore can affect the results. Because of concerns about the quality of 'smoking at booking' data, care should be taken in interpreting the results.


Maternity - A pregnancy resulting in a live or still birth, multiple births being counted only once.

Pregnancy - The period during which a woman is pregnant.

Parity - Refers to the number of previous pregnancies resulting in a live or still birth.

Antenatal - Occurring before birth.

Delivery - A delivery is a pregnancy resulting in a live or still birth.

Elective Caesarean - An elective caesarean section refers to a caesarean section, which has been planned in advance and in most cases will have been recommended for clinical reasons such as breech or multiple births or previous caesarean section. It may also be the case that the woman will have chosen this method of delivery for non-clinical reasons

Postnatal - Occurring after birth

All births - When four or more babies are born, details about the babies are only recorded on the SMR02 for the first three babies delivered. However, the total number of births from the pregnancy are recorded.

Still Births - The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland ) Act 1965 defines a stillbirth as a child which was born after the 24th week of pregnancy and which did not breathe or show any other sign of life.

Live Births - A live birth is defined as a birth where the baby was born breathing or showing other signs of life.

Singleton - The baby from a pregnancy resulting in only one live or still birth.

Multiple - A baby from a pregnancy resulting in more than one live or still birth.

Premature - A birth is considered premature if the delivery occurs before the 37th week of gestation.

Full term - A birth is considered full-term if the delivery occurs during or after the 37th week of gestation.

Low birthweight - Babies with a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams.

Very low birthweight - Babies with a birth weight of less than 1,500 grams.

Deprivation Category - The deprivation analyses on these webpages are based on either Carstairs deprivation quintiles1 or the Social Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) according to the recommendations on this page. See footnotes at bottom of individual tables for which deprivation measure was used.


1. Carstairs V and Morris R, Deprivation and Health in Scotland . (Aberdeen University Press; Aberdeen 1991).

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