Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 858–865 | Cite as

Feasibility of Linking Long-Term Cardiovascular Cohort Data to Offspring Birth Records: The Bogalusa Heart Study

  • Emily W. Harville
  • Marni Jacobs
  • Tian Shu
  • Dorothy Breckner
  • Maeve Wallace


Introduction Researchers in perinatal health, as well as other areas, may be interested in linking existing datasets to vital records data when the existence or timing of births is unknown. Methods 5914 women who participated in the Bogalusa Heart Study (1973–2009), a long-running study of cardiovascular health in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, were linked to vital statistics birth data from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas (1982–2010). Deterministic and probabilistic linkages based on social security number, race, maternal date of birth, first name, last name, and Soundex codes for name were conducted. Characteristics of the linked and unlinked women were compared using t-tests, Chi square tests, and multiple regression with adjustment for age and year of examinations. Results The Louisiana linkage linked 4876 births for 2770 women; Mississippi linked 791 births to 487 women; Texas linked 223 births to 153 women; After removal of duplicates and implausible dates, this left a total of 5922 births to 3260 women. This represents a successful linkage of 55% of all women ever seen in the larger study, and an estimated 65% of all women expected to have given birth. Those linked had more study visits, were more likely to be black, and had statistically lower BMIs than unlinked participants. Discussion Linking unrelated study data to vital records data was feasible to a degree. The linked group had a somewhat more favorable health profile and was less mobile than the overall study population.


Data collection Vital statistics Birth certificates 



Body mass index


Social security number



Richard Johnson and Judy Moulder at the Mississippi State Department of Health. Chris Simmons and Jamie Huang at the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Bogalusa Heart Study is supported by NIH Grants R01HL02942, HL15103, HD32194, and AG16592.

Author Contributions

EH, conceived the manuscript and the study and analyzed the data. MJ, conducted quality control of the linked data and the later Louisiana linkage. TS, created and merged databases from BHS and studies. DB, coordinated linkages across the three states. MW, performed initial Louisiana linkage. All authors contributed to the writing and read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

10995_2018_2460_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 36 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyTulane School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biostatistics and Study MethodologyChildren’s National Health SystemWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Global Community Health and BehaviorTulane School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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