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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Scottish Birth Record (NHS), 2002-

Title Details

Scottish Birth Record (NHS), 2002-
Principal investigator(s):
Information Services Division - NHS National Services Scotland
Data collector(s):
Information Services Division - NHS National Services Scotland

Subject Categories

  • Health services and medical care - Health


  • Abstract copyright ADRN.

    The Scottish Birth Record (SBR) was introduced in 2002 as a replacement for SMR11 and is a universal record for all babies born in Scotland. It provides the functionality to record all of a baby’s neonatal care in Scotland, from antenatal through to post delivery, including readmissions and transfers in one electronic record and also supplements the mother’s delivery information as recorded in SMR02. The SBR is based on individuals and events rather than episodes (as for the SMR series) and is completed for all births including still births and home births.

    The dataset is part of a wide range of health related administrative data collected by the Information Services Division (ISD), on behalf of the NHS National Services Scotland (part of NHS Scotland). ISD has been the authoritative source of Scottish national healthcare statistics for over 50 years. The data is used to enhance decisions about Scottish health care to improve the health of the people of Scotland.

    ISD is part of the SHIP (ScottisH Informatics Programme), a Scotland wide research platform for the collation, management, dissemination and analysis of Electronic Patient Records. As part of SHIP, ISD delivers Electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS), a one stop shop for health research designed to provide a single point of contact and to assist researchers in study design, approvals and data (non-patient or patient identifiable) access in a secure environment (the NSS National Safe Haven).

    The SBR system is operational in every maternity hospital throughout Scotland as well as a few community midwife practices. A CHI number is generated soon after a baby is born in order to minimise the chances of a baby being ‘lost’ on the database through a change of name after birth. The dataset collects a wide variety of information on the child from birth and during the babies first year of life and is extensive, with up to four hundred data items recorded for any one individual. This includes gestation, weight, congenital anomalies and discharge details. Identifiers such as name, date of birth, Community Health Index number and postcode are also included. Unlike other SMR datasets, there is not a wide variety of geographical measures included in the dataset.

    The Scottish Birth Record covers all new babies born in Scotland including still births and home births. The NHS Information Centre collects similar information for England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the Hospital Information Branch of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety do likewise.

    The Scottish Birth Record System data is available from 2002 onwards. Prior to this information on babies born was recorded in the Neonatal Inpatient dataset (SMR11). The SMR11 dataset went through various unsuccessful iterations before being replaced by the SBR. The Scottish Birth Record had a phased implementation over the first few years and as such researchers should consider whether the period of interest may cover both SMR11 and SBR datasets and the data completeness for those years.

    The majority of babies born in Scotland are registered onto the SBR system within one week of birth. Data from birth is available from the system as close to real time as possible once coded correctly by NHS staff.

    ISD define a healthy baby as those cases that have no clinical codes recorded, or where ICD code Z37 or Z38 are used.

    Research Usage and Linkage

    The Scottish Birth Record System is used by NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government for planning, epidemiology, provision of service and providing comparative information to help improve efficiencies in health care services. The data is also used locally by NHS Boards for a range of operational purposes.

    The Scottish Birth Record System data records a baby’s CHI number so it is possible to link data to other indexed datasets deterministically. This was approximately 99.8% complete in 2011. The CHI number is also attached by ISD to historical birth records prior to SBR implementation.

    The Scottish Birth Record System is also linked by ISD to the Maternity and Neonatal Linked Database. This database contains:

    • Maternity Inpatient and Day Case dataset (SMR02) dataset from 1975 onwards
    • Neonatal Inpatient dataset (SMR11) from 1975 until 2003
    • Scottish Stillbirth and Infant Death Survey from 1985 until 2010
    • National Records of Scotland birth, still-birth and infant death records from 1975 onwards.

    The database is updated regularly, varying by dataset, following the population of CHI on all the datasets. Researchers can apply to access this linked dataset, the individual Scottish Birth Record or the Scottish Birth Record linked with an external data source. All applications pass through the Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC) approval process.

    The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) provides a detailed picture of the health and social status of the people of Scotland. The SLS can be linked to the Scottish Birth Record and other NHS Scotland health administrative datasets.

    The ISD Scotland Medical Record Linkage team could potentially link the Scottish Birth Record System dataset with other external data sources, and PAC approval will still be required if using patient identifiable data.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period:
2002 -
Observation units:
Events and processes
Kind of data:
Individual (micro) level
All new babies born in Scotland including still births and home births since 2002.

Time dimensions:
Repeated cross-sectional study
Sampling procedures:
No sampling (total universe)
Number of units:
Approximately 60,000 records per year
Method of data collection:

Compilation or synthesis of existing material

The majority of babies born in Scotland are registered onto the SBR system within one week of birth. Data from birth is available from the system as close to real time as possible once coded correctly by NHS staff.

Frequency of release:
Data Updated:

Administrative and access information

Crown copyright
Access conditions:
Contact the Network



By principal investigator(s):

  • Scottish Health Informatics Programme (2012) A Blueprint for Health Records Research in Scotland, Scottish Health Informatics Programme.

Resulting from secondary analysis:

  • Smith, G.C.S., Wood, A. M., Pell, J. P., Dobbie, R. (2006) 'Sudden infant death syndrome and complications in other pregnancies', The Lancet, 366(9503), pp. 2107-2111. 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67888-9
  • Smith, G., Shah, I., White, I., Pell, J., Crossley, J., Dobbie, R. (2007) 'Maternal and biochemical predictors of antepartum stillbirth among nulliparous women in relation to gestational age of foetal death', BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 114(6), pp. 705-714. 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01343.x
  • Hockley, C., Quigley, M.A., Hughes, G., Calderwood, L., Joshi, H., Davidson, L.L. (2008) 'Linking Millennium Cohort data to birth registration and hospital episode records', Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 22(1), pp. 99-109.
  • Norman, J.E., Morris, C., Chalmers, J. (2009) 'The Effect of Changing Patterns of Obstetric Care in Scotland (1980-2004) on Rates of Preterm Birth and Its Neonatal Consequences:', PLoS Medicine, 6(9). 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000153
  • Riordan, D.V., Morris, C., Hattie, J., Stark, C. (2012) 'Interbirth spacing and offspring mental health outcomes', Psychological Medicine, 42(12), pp. 2511-2521.
  • Riordan, D.V., Morris, C., Hattie, J., Stark, C. (2012) 'Family size and perinatal circumstances, as mental health risk factors in a Scottish birth cohort', Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47(6), pp. 975-983. 10.1007/s00127-011-0405-5

Page last updated: 20/09/2017