VITAL STATISTICS, 1998
and United States Birth Rates
The 1998 U.S. fertility rate of 65.6 live births per 1,000 women aged
15-44 was 0.5% higher than the 1997 rate (65.3). West Virginia's fertility
rate increased from 51.8 in 1997 to 53.7 in 1998. A comparison of West
Virginia and United States age-specific fertility rates is displayed in
the table below.
* All fertility rates were calculated using 1998 estimates,
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
The fertility rate among women aged 15-19 in West Virginia was 4.9% lower than that among young women in the U.S. (48.6 vs. 51.1). The fertility rate among women aged 20-44, however, was 20.4% lower in the state than in the nation (54.2 vs. 68.1).
The number of births to teenage mothers decreased by 68 (2.1%), from 3,288 in 1997 to 3,220 in 1998. The percentage of total births decreased from 15.9% in 1997 to 15.5% in 1998. The significantly lower fertility rate among older women, however, resulted in teenage births continuing to constitute a higher proportion of total births than is found nationally (12.3% in 1998).
The percentage of births occurring out of wedlock has continued to rise steadily over the past decade, except between 1996 and 1997. In 1998 nearly one out of every three (32.3%) West Virginia resident births was to an unwed mother. The percentages of white and black births that occurred out of wedlock in West Virginia in 1998 were 30.8% and 76.6%, respectively, compared to 29.7% and 75.9% in 1997. In the United States in 1998, 26.3% of white births and 69.0% of births to black mothers occurred out of wedlock. The percentage of teenage births to unmarried mothers in the state increased from 69.7% in 1997 to 71.0% in 1998.
There were a total of 1,675 low birthweight babies (those weighing less than 2,500 grams or 5½ born to West Virginia residents in 1998, 8.1% of all births. Of the 1,559 low birthweight infants with known gestational age, 1,011 or 64.8% were preterm babies born before 37 weeks of gestation. (Of all 1998 resident births with a known gestational age, 13.0% were preterm babies.) Of the births with known birthweight, 13.1% of black babies and 7.9% of the white babies were low birthweight. Nationally, 7.6% of all infants weighed less than 2,500 grams at birth in 1998; 6.6% of white infants and 13.0% of black infants were of low birthweight.
Over eighty percent (83.7%) of West Virginia mothers who received known prenatal care began their care during the first trimester of pregnancy compared to 82.8% of mothers nationwide in 1998. Among those with known prenatal care, 84.2% of the white mothers began care during the first trimester; 70.5% of black mothers did so. No prenatal care was received by 0.5% of white mothers and by 1.7% of black mothers.
Over one-fourth (25.4%) of the 20,729 births in 1998 were to mothers
who smoked during their pregnancies, while 1.0% of births were to women
who used alcohol. The most recent national figures show that 13.6% of women
giving birth reported smoking during pregnancy (1996) and 1.5% used alcohol
(1995). Twenty-four percent (24.1%) of 1998 state births were delivered
by Cesarean section, compared to national rate of 21.2%. One or more complications
of labor and/or delivery were reported for 33.4% of deliveries in the state
Heart disease, cancer, and stroke, the three leading causes of death, accounted for 61.7% of West Virginia resident deaths and 60.8% of the United States deaths in 1998. Compared to 1997, the number of state deaths due to heart disease decreased 0.6% while cancer deaths decreased 0.7%. Deaths due to stroke decreased (2.6%), while chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality increased (0.5%). Diabetes mellitus deaths increased 4.7%, while the number of reported deaths due to pneumonia and influenza was 712 in both 1997 and 1998. Mortality resulting from unintentional injuries increased 3.3%, from 788 in 1997 to 814 in 1998. Motor vehicle traffic accidents continued to be below the 424 deaths in 1993, the year the West Virginia seatbelt law took effect, decreasing by 3 (0.8%) from 389 in 1997 to 386 in 1998.
Unintentional injuries remained the leading cause of death for ages 1 through 34 years. Even with the precipitous drop in motor vehicle accident deaths between 1993 and 1994, such fatalities remained the single leading cause of death for young adults aged 15 through 34, accounting for 30.2% of all deaths for this age group in 1998, compared with 30.8% in 1997. West Virginia's 1998 motor vehicle fatalities included three children under five years of age, the same as in 1997.
Suicides decreased by 37 (261 to 224 or 14.2%) between 1997 and 1998. Male suicides decreased 13.7%, from 219 in 1997 to 189 in 1998; the number of female suicides (35) decreased by seven or 16.7% from 1997. Over seventy percent (71.9%) of all suicide deaths were firearm related -- 75.1% of male suicides and 54.3% of female suicides. The average age of death for a suicide victim in 1998 was 45.4 years. While suicide was the ninth leading cause of death overall, it was still the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34. The number of suicides among persons aged 19 and under rose by one, from 16 in 1997 to 17 in 1998.
Homicides in West Virginia increased by one, from 94 in 1997
to 95 in 1998. Sixty-four of the homicide victims were male, 31 were female.
The average age at death for a homicide victim in 1998 was 37.6 years.
There were three homicide victims under the age of five in 1998, compared
to six in 1997. Over sixty percent (63.2%) of 1998 homicide deaths were
due to firearms.
Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL)
The YPLL from all causes decreased marginally, from 81,248 YPLL in 1997
to 81,212 in 1998. The three leading causes of YPLL in 1998 were malignant
neoplasms (15,410 YPLL), diseases of the heart (14,038 YPLL), and motor
vehicle accidents (10,313 YPLL). Combined, these three causes accounted
for almost half (49.0%) of all years of potential life lost in 1998. In
comparison to 1997, YPLL attributable to malignant neoplasms increased
from 18.6% of the total to 19.0%. YPLL due to diseases of the heart also
increased from 15.3% to 17.3% while the percentage of total YPLL due to
motor vehicle crashes increased from 12.6% to 12.7%.
The table below shows the decline in the national and state infant mortality
rates from 1950 through 1998.
The state's 1998 white infant mortality rate decreased 12.1%,
from 9.1 in 1997 to 8.0, while the rate for black infants decreased
47.3%, from 20.1 to 10.6. West Virginia's 1998 race-specific infant mortality
rates and comparable U.S. rates for 1998 (provisional) are shown in the
Approximately one in five (21.0%) infant deaths in 1998 was due to SIDS
(sudden infant death syndrome). Twenty-five percent (24.6%) were the result
of congenital anomalies, while 40.7% were due to certain conditions originating
in the perinatal period, including disorders relating to short gestation
and unspecified low birthweight (8.4%).
The median age for all marriages in 1998 was 25 for brides and 27 for
grooms. For first marriages, the median age was 22 for brides and 24 for
grooms. The mode (most frequently reported age) for all marriages, and
for first marriages, was 22 for brides and 23 for grooms.
Divorces and Annulments
Of the 9,309 divorces in West Virginia in 1998, the median duration
of marriage was six years. Over half (50.7%) of the divorces involved no
children under 18 years of age in the family, while one child was involved
in 25.6% of all divorces and two children were involved in 17.6%. Fourteen
divorces involved six or more children.
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Last updated 03/15/00.