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West Virginia

 Vital Statistics - 2000
Executive Summary

Population | Live Births | Deaths | YPLL | Infant Deaths | Neonatal/postneonatal deaths | Fetal Deaths | Marriages | Divorces and Annulments | Summary


For the fourth year in a row, more state residents died than were born. In 2000, 267 West Virginians were lost to the total population as a result of natural decrease, the excess of deaths over births. The rate of natural decrease was 0.15 persons per 1,000 population. Results from the 2000 Census show an overall increase (approximately 0.8%) in the state's population since 1990, from 1,793,477 to 1,808,344. This increase is the result of an overall natural increase and an excess of inmigration over outmigration during the entire decade.

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Live Births

West Virginia resident live births increased by 129, from 20,731 in 1999 to 20,860 in 2000. The 2000 birth rate of 11.5 per 1,000 population remained unchanged from 1999. The U.S. 2000 birth rate was 14.4 live births per 1,000 population, slightly lower than 1999 (14.5). As the graph below shows, West Virginia's birth rate has been below the national rate since 1980. It has continued its overall decline, interrupted by slight upturns in 1989 through 1991 and 1999.

Graph of West Virginia and United States Birth rates from 1980 to 2000.

The 2000 U.S. fertility rate of 66.0 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 was 0.2% higher than the 1999 rate (65.8). West Virginia's fertility rate, on the other hand, decreased from 56.3 in 1999 to 55.8 in 2000. A comparison of West Virginia and United States age-specific fertility rates is displayed below:

Fertility Rates* by Age Group
West Virginia and United States, 2000
15-1920-44Total (15-44)
46.3 47.7 57.4 69.1 55.8 65.9

* All fertility rates were calculated using 2000 population, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
** National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 50, No. 5, February 2002.

The fertility rate among women aged 15-19 in West Virginia was 2.9% lower than that among young women in the U.S. (46.3 vs. 47.7). The fertility rate among women aged 20-44, however, was 16.9% lower in the state than in the nation (57.4 vs. 69.1).

The number of births to teenage mothers decreased by 167 (5.5%), from 3,025 in 1999 to 2,858 in 2000. The percentage of total births represented by teenage births decreased from 14.6% in 1999 to 13.7% in 2000. 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 (11.8% in 2000).

The percentage of births occurring out of wedlock declined from 1999, although nearly one out of every three (31.6%) 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 2000 were 30.0% and 75.6%, respectively, compared to 30.1% and 77.9% in 1999. In the United States in 2000, 27.1% of white births and 68.5% of births to black mothers occurred out of wedlock. The percentage of teenage births to unmarried teenage mothers in the state decreased from 69.6% in 1999 to 68.6% in 2000.

There were a total of 1,746 low birthweight babies (those weighing less than 2,500 grams or 5 pounds) born to West Virginia residents in 2000, 8.4% of all births. Of the 1,628 low birthweight infants with known gestational age, 1,060 or 65.1% were preterm babies born before 37 weeks of gestation. (Of all 2000 resident births with a known gestational age, 10.9% were preterm babies.) Of the births with known birthweight, 15.2% of babies born to black mothers and 8.1% of babies born to white mothers were low birthweight. Nationally, 7.6% of all infants weighed less 2 than 2,500 grams at birth in 2000; 6.5% of white infants and 13.0% of black infants were of low birthweight.

Over eighty-six percent (86.1%) of West Virginia mothers who received known prenatal care began their care during the first trimester of pregnancy, compared to 83.2% of mothers nationwide in 2000. Among those with known prenatal care, 86.7% of the white mothers began care during the first trimester; 70.4% of black mothers did so. (U.S. figures show 85.0% of white mothers and 74.3% black) No prenatal care was received by 0.5% of white mothers and by 1.1% of black mothers. Over one-fourth (26.0%) of the 20,860 births in 2000 were to mothers who smoked during their pregnancies, while 0.5% of births were to women who used alcohol. National figures show that 12.2% of women giving birth reported smoking during pregnancy and 0.9% used alcohol.

Over one-fourth (25.5%) of 2000 state births were delivered by Cesarean section, compared to a national rate of 22.8%. One or more complications of labor and/or delivery were reported for 31.4% of deliveries in the state in 2000.

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Effective in 1999, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the tenth revision to the International Classification of Diseases - now known as ICD-10. This is the first revision since 1979 and includes a more comprehensive classification of causes of death. Previously, all causes of death were coded numerically. Now all causes of death are coded alpha-numerically, allowing many more possible causes (Table 42, pages 93-119). When comparing 1999 deaths to earlier years, differences between ICD-9 coding and ICD-10 coding must be taken into account. Appendix B contains a more detailed explanation of ICD-10, as well as the new selected causes of death listing.

The number of West Virginia resident deaths increased from 20,993 in 1999 to 21,127 in 2000. The state's crude death rate also rose from 11.6 per 1,000 population in 1999 to 11.7. The average age at death for West Virginians was 73.1 (69.5 for men and 76.5 for women). One hundred and forty-four West Virginia residents who died in 2000 were age 100 or older. The oldest man was 108 years old at the time of death, while the oldest woman was 110 years old.

Heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases, the three leading causes of death, accounted for 59.7% of West Virginia resident deaths in 2000. Compared to 1999, the number of state deaths due to heart disease decreased 6.3% while cancer deaths increased only by three (0.1%). Deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases increased (12.7%) surpassing stroke deaths for the first time, while stroke mortality decreased 5.2%. Diabetes mellitus deaths increased 3.6%, while the number of reported deaths due to pneumonia and influenza increased substantially (41.2%) from 1999 to 2000. Mortality resulting from accidents increased 4.9%, from 800 in 1999 to 839 in 2000. Although motor vehicle accident deaths continued to number fewer than the 435 deaths in 1993, the year the West Virginia seatbelt law took effect, they increased by 11 (2.9%) from 375 in 1999 to 386 in 2000.

Accidents remained the leading cause of death for ages one 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 30.9% of all deaths for this age group in 2000, compared with 32.2% in 1999. West Virginia's 2000 motor vehicle fatalities included five children under five years of age, compared to six in 1999.

Suicides increased by 14 (232 to 246 or 6.0%) between 1999 and 2000. Male suicides decreased 1.5 %, from 200 in 1999 to 197 in 2000; the number of female suicides (49) increased by 17 or 53.1% from 1999. Seventy-two percent (72.0%) of all suicide deaths were firearm related 77.2% of male suicides and 51.0% of female suicides. The average age of death for a suicide victim in 2000 was 45.2 years. While suicide was the twelfth 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 three, from 15 in 1999 to18 in 2000.

Homicides in West Virginia decreased by 22, from 102 in 1999 to 80 in 2000. Fifty-eight (58) of the homicide victims were male, 22 were female. The average age at death for a homicide victim in 2000 was 34.9 years. There were three homicide victims under the age of five in 2000, compared to one in 1999. Almost two-thirds (66.3%) of 2000 homicide deaths were due to firearms.

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Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL)

YPLL is a measure of premature or preventable mortality occurring before the age of 65, calculated as the difference between age 65 and the age at death. The sum of YPLL over all causes is the total YPLL from all persons dying before the age of 65. For example, a person dying at the age of 45 contributes 20 years total to the total YPLL (65-45 = 20 YPLL). YPLL is an important tool for emphasizing and evaluating causes of death among persons less than 65 years of age.

The YPLL from all causes increased 3.8%, from 79,855 YPLL in 1999 to 82,910 in 2000. The three leading causes of YPLL in 2000 were malignant neoplasms (15,189 YPLL), diseases of the heart (12,139 YPLL), and motor vehicle accidents (10,587 YPLL). Combined, these three causes accounted for almost half (45.7%) of all years of potential life lost in 2000. In comparison to 1999, YPLL attributable to malignant neoplasms decreased from 18.7% of the total to 18.3%. YPLL due to diseases of the heart also decreased from 16.3% to 14.6%, as did the percentage of total YPLL due to motor vehicle crashes, from 13.2% to 12.8%.

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Infant Deaths

Deaths of infants under one year of age increased only by two, from 157 in 1999 to 159 in 2000. West Virginia's infant mortality rate stayed the same, however, at 7.6 per 1,000 live births. The U.S. provisional 2000 infant mortality rate was 6.9, compared to 7.1 in 1999.

The table on the following page shows the decline in the national and state infant mortality rates from 1950 through 2000.

1950 - 1999 Infant Mortality
West Virginia and United States
(Number and Rate per 1,000 Live Births)
Year West Virginia United States
1950 31.4 29.2
1955 27.1 26.4
1960 25.3 26.0
1965 27.1 24.5
1970 23.3 20.0
1975 18.3 16.1
1980 11.8 12.6
1985 10.7 10.6
1990 9.8 9.1
1991 8.1 8.9
1992 9.1 8.5
1993 8.6 8.3
1994 6.1 8.1
1995 7.6 7.5
1996 7.2 7.2
1997 9.5 7.2
1998 8.1 7.2
1999 7.6 7.1
2000 7.6 6.9

The state's 2000 white infant mortality rate decreased 1.3%, from 7.5 in 1999 to 7.4, while the rate for black infants increased 6.7%, from 13.4 to 14.3 (see statistical variation in Methodology on page 9). West Virginia's 2000 race-specific infant mortality rates and comparable U.S. rates are shown in the table below:

2000 West Virginia and United States
Infant Mortality by Race
(Number and Rate per 1,000 Live Births
Race of Infant West Virginia United States
Number Rate Number Rate
All Races 159 7.6 27,987 3.9
White 148 7.4 18,216 5.7
Black 11 14.3 8,665 14.0
Other 0 0.0 1,106 4.8

Approximately one in seven (13.8%) infant deaths in 2000 was due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Twenty-five percent (25.2%) were the result of congenital anomalies, while almost half (49.1%) were due to certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, including disorders relating to short gestation and unspecified low birthweight (11.3%).

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Neonatal/Postneonatal Deaths

The number of neonatal deaths increased by five, from 98 in 1999 to 103 in 2000; the neonatal death rate also increased from 4.7 deaths among infants under 28 days per 1,000 live births in 1999 to 4.9 in 2000. Neonatal deaths comprised 64.8% of all West Virginia resident infant deaths in 2000, compared to 62.4% in 1999. The rate of postneonatal deaths decreased from 2.9 deaths per 1,000 neonatal survivors in 1999 to 2.7 in 2000. The 2000 provisional U.S. neonatal death rate was 4.6, while the postneonatal rate was 2.3 deaths per 1,000 neonatal survivors.

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Fetal Deaths

The 142 resident fetal deaths occurring after 20 or more weeks of gestation reported in 2000 were exactly the same as 1999. The fetal death ratio also remained at 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1999 and 2000. The majority (87.3%) of fetal deaths were due to conditions originating in the perinatal period, including complications of placenta, cord, and membrane (32.4%), maternal conditions (2.8%), maternal complications (9.9%), short gestation and low birthweight (4.9%), and other ill-defined perinatal conditions (31.7%). Congenital anomalies accounted for 11.3% of all fetal deaths.

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Due to a new law that became effective June 2, 1999* the number of marriages in West Virginia increased dramatically from 13,705 in 1999 to 15,375 in 2000. The marriage rate in 2000 was 8.5 per 1,000 population, compared to 7.6 in 1999. The 2000 U.S. provisional rate was 8.3.

For all marriages in 2000, the median age for brides was 26 and for grooms 28. For first marriages, the median age for brides was 22 and for grooms was 24. The mode (most frequently reported age) for all marriages as well as first marriages for brides was 22 and for grooms 23.

*The new law removed the three-day waiting period for persons aged 18 and older as well as the requirement for a blood test for syphilis.

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Divorces and Annulments

The number of divorces increased 0.3%, from 9,309 in 1999 to 9,336 in 2000. The 2000 rate of 5.2 per 1,000 population was the same as 1999. The 2000 U.S. provisional rate was 4.1 per 1,000 population.

Of the 9,336 divorces in West Virginia in 2000, the median duration of marriage was 6.3 years. Over half (52.7%) of the divorces involved no children under 18 years of age in the family, while one child was involved in 23.8% of all divorces and two children were involved in 17.4%. Four divorces involved six or more children.

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The number of West Virginia resident births increased by 129 from 20,731 in 1999 to 20,860 in 2000. West Virginia resident deaths increased from 20,993 in 1999 to 21,127 in 2000. The number of infant deaths increased by two, from 157 in 1999 to 159 in 2000. Fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks gestation stayed the same at 142. Marriages increased for the third year in a row, from 13,705 in 1999 to 15,375 in 2000, while divorces increased by 27, from 9,309 in 1999 to 9,336 in 2000.

Cover Photo of the High Falls of the Cheat River

Cover photo and description - 40K


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Bureau for Public Health
Office of Epidemiology and Health Promotion
Health Statistics Center
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Last updated 1/07/03.