Vital Statistics Death Database – Glossary

The definitions used for the production of statistical tables of Canadian vital statistics data are based on those recommended by the World Health OrganizationNote1 and the United Nations.Note2

Age. Age attained at the last birthday preceding death. In the case of infant deaths, the completed number of months (or minutes, hours, or days) since birth.

Cause of death. The cause of death coded and tabulated is the underlying cause of death. This is defined as "(a) the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death, or (b) the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury". This underlying cause of death is selected from a number of conditions listed on the medical certificate of cause of death.

Beginning in the year 2000 in Canada, causes of death and stillbirth are coded to the 10th revision of the World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10). The previous revision, ICD-9Note3 was used in Canada for the classification of cause of death and stillbirth from 1979 to 1999.

Death. The permanent disappearance of all evidence of life at any time after a live birth has taken place. Stillbirths are excluded from death statistics unless otherwise indicated.

  • Early neonatal death: Death of a child under one week of age (0 to 6 days).
  • Infant death: Death of a child under one year of age.
  • Neonatal death: Death of a child under four weeks of age (0 to 27 days).
  • Perinatal death: Death of a child under one week of age (0 to 6 days) or a stillbirth of 28 or more weeks of gestation.
  • Post-neonatal death: Death of a child under one year of age but at least 28 days old (28 to 364 days).

Death (mortality) rates

  • Age-specific mortality rate: The number of deaths in a particular age group during a given year per 1,000 population (or 100,000 population) in the same age group as of July 1 of the same year.
  • Age-standardized mortality rate: Age-standardization removes the effects of differences in the age structure of populations among areas and over time. Age-standardized mortality rates show the number of deaths per 1,000 population (or 100,000 population) that would have occurred in a given area if the age structure of the population of that area was the same as the age structure of a specified standard population. For age-standardized mortality rates using the 1991 population, see CANSIM tables 102-0552 and 102-0563. For age-standardized mortality rates using the 2011 population, see CANSIM tables 102-0553 and 102-0564.

The formula for an age-standardized mortality rate r is:

r= i=1 20 ( d i p i ) w i where, MathType@MTEF@5@5@+= feaagKart1ev2aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLn hiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr 4rNCHbcvPDwzYbGeaGqiVu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0x e9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKk Fr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaam OCaiabg2da9maaqahabaWaaeWaaeaadaWcaaqaaiaadsgadaWgaaWc baGaamyAaaqabaaakeaacaWGWbWaaSbaaSqaaiaadMgaaeqaaaaaaO GaayjkaiaawMcaaaWcbaGaamyAaiabg2da9iaaigdaaeaacaaIYaGa aGimaaqdcqGHris5aOGaam4DamaaBaaaleaacaWGPbaabeaakiaayk W7caaMc8Uaam4DaiaadIgacaWGLbGaamOCaiaadwgacaGGSaaaaa@50D8@

For age group i:
di is the age-sex-specific death count for a particular cause of death for a given year and geographical area,

pi is the age-sex-specific population estimate for July 1 of the same year and geographical area, and

wi is the weight for that age group in a standard population. The 1991 and 2011 standard populations and calculated weights are shown in Text table 1. Note that the same weights are used for each sex.

To yield a rate per 1,000 population (or 100,000 population), r is multiplied by 1,000 (or 100,000).

Text table 1
Standardized-population by age group, Canada, July 1st, 1991 and 2011 (both sexes)
Table summary
This table displays the results of Standardized–population by age group. The information is grouped by Group i (appearing as row headers), Age in years, 1991 Standard population, 1991 Weight w, 2011 Standard population and 2011 Weight
w (appearing as column headers).
Group i Age in years 1991 Standard population 1991 Weight
w
2011 Standard population 2011 Weight
w
1 under 1   403,061   0.0143 376,321 0.0110
2 1 to 4   1,550,285   0.0551 1,522,743 0.0443
3 5 to 9   1,953,045   0.0695 1,810,433 0.0527
4 10 to 14   1,913,115   0.068 1,918,164 0.0559
5 15 to 19   1,926,090   0.0685 2,238,952 0.0652
6 20 to 24   2,109,452   0.075 2,354,354 0.0686
7 25 to 29   2,529,239   0.0899 2,369,841 0.0690
8 30 to 34   2,598,289   0.0924 2,327,955 0.0678
9 35 to 39   2,344,872   0.0834 2,273,087 0.0662
10 40 to 44   2,138,891   0.0761 2,385,918 0.0695
11 45 to 49   1,674,153   0.0595 2,719,909 0.0792
12 50 to 54   1,339,902   0.0476 2,691,260 0.0784
13 55 to 59   1,238,441   0.044 2,353,090 0.0685
14 60 to 64   1,190,217   0.0423 2,050,443 0.0597
15 65 to 69   1,084,588   0.0386 1,532,940 0.0446
16 70 to 74   834,024   0.0297 1,153,822 0.0336
17 75 to 79   622,221   0.0221 919,338 0.0268
18 80 to 84   382,303   0.0136 701,140 0.0204
19 85 to 89   192,410   0.0068 426,739 0.0124
20 90 and over   95,467   0.0034 216,331 0.0063
Total Note ...: not applicable   28,120,065 1 34,342,780 1
  • Crude death rate: The number of deaths during a given year per 1,000 population (or 100,000 population) as of July 1 of the same year.
  • Early neonatal death rate: The number of early neonatal deaths during a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year.
  • Infant mortality rate: The number of infant deaths during a given year per 1,000 live births (or 100,000 live births) in the same year.
  • Neonatal death rate: The number of neonatal deaths during a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year.
  • Perinatal death rate: The number of perinatal deaths during a given year per 1,000 total births (live births plus stillbirths of 28 or more weeks of gestation) in the same year.
  • Post-neonatal death rate: The number of post-neonatal deaths during a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year.

Delivery. A delivery may consist of one or more live born or stillborn fetuses. The number of deliveries in a given period will be equal to or less than the total number of births because a multiple birth (twins, triplets or higher-order multiple births) is counted as a single delivery.

Fetal death (stillbirth). See Stillbirth.

Fetal death (stillbirth) rate. See Stillbirth rate.

Gestational age. The interval, in completed weeks, between the first day of the mother's last menstrual period and the day of delivery (that is, the duration of pregnancy). It can also be an estimate of that interval, based on ultrasound, a physical examination, or other method. Canadian birth registration documents do not specify how the gestational age was calculated. Pre-term refers to a period of gestation under 37 completed weeks; term, 37 through 41 completed weeks; and post-term, 42 or more completed weeks.

ICD-10 codes. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) codes, 10th Revision, were established by the World Health Organization in 1992. The ICD-10 manual assigns codes to specific diseases, injuries and causes of death.

Leading causes of death. From the approximately 8,000 ICD–10 codes valid for underlying causes of death, aggregated groups of causes of death called "short lists" were developed for use in the summary list of causes of death and to rank the leading causes of death. The short lists of ICD-10 used to rank the leading causes of death and the methodology used to select the rankable causes were developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.Note4

The number of deaths is used as the ranking criteria because it most accurately reflects the frequency of cause-specific mortality. The 50 rankable causes of death, as shown in Appendix 1, were selected from the short list of 113 selected causes of death developed by NCHS for use with ICD–10. The 71 rankable causes of infant death, as shown in Appendix 2, were selected from the short list of 130 selected causes of infant death developed by NCHS for use with ICD–10.

The ranking of leading causes has limitations; it describes the rank order, by number of deaths, of each cause of death from a selected list of causes. The ranking alone cannot measure the relative risk of death. Further, any comparisons of leading causes by region or by year do not take into account the differences in the population age structure.

Live birth. The complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy, which, after such separation, 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.

Life expectancy. A statistical measure derived from the life table indicating the average number of years of life remaining for a population at a specific age, if the individuals comprising that population would experience the age-specific mortality rates observed in a given year, throughout their lives.

Marital status. Marital status refers to the legal conjugal status of the deceased at the time of death. Persons in common-law relationships are categorized by their legal marital status (common-law relationships are included in the “unknown marital status” category where the legal status cannot be determined). A single person is one who has never been married, or a person whose marriage has been annulled and who has not remarried. A separated person is legally married but is not living with his or her spouse because the couple no longer wants to live together. A divorced person is one who has obtained a legal divorce and has not remarried. A married person is one who is legally married and not separated. A person whose spouse has died and who has not remarried is widowed.

Population. Persons whose usual place of residence is somewhere in Canada, including Canadian government employees stationed abroad and their families, members of the Canadian Forces stationed abroad and their families, crews of Canadian merchant vessels, and non-permanent residents of Canada.

Mid-year (July 1) population estimates are used to calculate the rates in vital statistics publications (see table footnotes). Population estimates are frequently revised by Statistics Canada's Demography Division.

Provinces and territories. Unless otherwise stated, the geographic distribution of deaths in the tables of this publication is based on the deceased's usual place of residence.

Nunavut came into being officially as a Territory of Canada on April 1, 1999. The name Northwest Territories applies to a Territory with different geographic boundaries before and after April 1, 1999.

Deaths and stillbirths of residents of Nunavut which took place before April 1, 1999 are included with deaths and stillbirths of residents of the Northwest Territories. Deaths and stillbirths which took place on or after April 1, 1999 are tabulated separately for residents of Nunavut.

Rank of leading causes of death. The rank is based on the number of deaths of each leading cause of death. When there is the same number of deaths for more than one leading cause, the ranks assigned will be the same. Consequently, the next rank in line will be incremented by the number of equal ranks. For example, if there are three leading causes of death with 4th rank, the next leading cause will be rank 7th.

Stillbirth (fetal death). Death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy; the death is indicated by the fact that after such separation the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles. Only stillbirths where the product of conception has a birth weight of 500 grams or more or the duration of pregnancy is 20 weeks or longer are registered in Canada.

In Quebec (as well as in Saskatchewan prior to 2001 and in New Brunswick prior to November 1996), only stillbirths (fetal deaths) weighing 500 or more grams must be reported, regardless of the gestation period.

Because of these differences in reporting requirements, stillbirths (fetal deaths) data are presented for two gestation periods: 20 or more weeks of gestation (including fetal deaths or stillbirths with unknown weeks of gestation), and 28 or more weeks of gestation (excluding unknown weeks of gestation).

Stillbirth (fetal death) rate. The number of stillbirths (fetal deaths) per 1,000 live births plus stillbirths (fetal deaths).

Notes

1. World Health Organization (WHO). International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, Volumes 1 and 2 (ICD-10). Geneva, 1992.

2. United Nations. Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System. Statistical Papers, Series M, No. 19, Rev. 1. New York, 1974.

3. World Health Organization (WHO). International Classification of Diseases, 1975 Revision, Volume 1 (ICD-9). Geneva, 1977.

4. Heron, M. "Deaths: leading causes for 2004." National Vital Statistics Reports. 2007; 56(5): 1–95.

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