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West Virginia

 Vital Statistics - 2005
Executive Summary

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


In 2005, 61 West Virginians were added to the total population as a result of natural increase, the excess of births over deaths. The rate of natural increase was 0.03 persons per 1,000 population. Results from the 2005 Census estimate show an overall increase (approximately 0.5%) in the state’s population since 2000, from 1,808,344 to 1,816,856. This increase is the result of a slight growth in the excess of in-migration over out-migration during that span, as well as the natural increase.

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Live Births

West Virginia resident live births decreased by 77, from 20,911 in 2004 to 20,834 in 2005. The 2005 birth rate of 11.5 per 1,000 population was the same as the 2004 rate. The U.S. 2005 birth rate was 14.0 live births per 1,000 population and was unchanged from 2004. As the graph below shows, West Virginia’s birth rate has been below the national rate since 1980. It continued its overall decline until 1996, interrupted by slight upturns in 1989 through 1991. It has remained relatively stable since 1996.

Graph of U.S. and W.V. birth rates from 1980 to 2005.

The 2005 U.S. fertility rate of 66.7 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 was 0.6% higher than the 2004 rate (66.3). West Virginia’s fertility rate increased 0.7%, from 58.4 in 2004 to 58.8 in 2005. 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, 2005
15-1920-44Total (15-44)
43.4 40.4 61.6 71.6 58.8 66.7

* All fertility rates were calculated using 2005 estimates. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
** National Center for Health Statistics,

The fertility rate among women aged 15-19 in West Virginia was 7.4% higher than that among young women in the U.S. (43.4 vs. 40.4). The fertility rate among women aged 20-44 was lower by 14.0% in the state than in the nation (61.6 vs. 71.6).

The number of births to teenage mothers decreased by 17 (0.7%), from 2,489 in 2004 to 2,472 in 2005. The percentage of total births represented by teenage births was unchanged at 11.9% in 2004 and 2005. The significantly lower fertility rate among older women, however, resulted in teenage births continuing to constitute a higher proportion of total births than was found nationally (10.2% in 2005).

The percentage of births occurring out of wedlock continued to rise in 2005. Again, over one out of every three (36.4%) West Virginia resident births were to unwed mothers. The percentages of white and black births that occurred out of wedlock in West Virginia in 2005 were 35.2% and 75.5%, respectively, compared to 33.4% and 76.9% in 2004. In the United States in 2005, 25.4% of white births (non-Hispanic) and 69.5% of births to black mothers (non-Hispanic) occurred out of wedlock. The percentage of teenage births to unmarried teenage mothers in the state increased from 76.5% in 2004 to 77.1% in 2005.

There was a total of 1,984 low birthweight babies (those weighing less than 2,500 grams or 5½ pounds) born to West Virginia residents in 2005, 9.5% of all births. Of the l,984 low birthweight infants, 1,386 or 69.9% were preterm babies born before 37 weeks of gestation. (Of all 2005 resident births with a known gestational age, 12.5% were preterm babies.) Of the births with known birthweight, 9.4% of babies born to white mothers and 13.2% of babies born to black mothers were low birthweight. Nationally, 8.2% of all infants weighed less than 2,500 grams at birth in 2005; 7.3% of white infants and 14.0% of black infants were of low birthweight.

Eighty-four percent (84.5%) of 2005 West Virginia mothers with known prenatal care began their care during the first trimester of pregnancy, compared with 83.9% of mothers nationwide in 2004 (the latest data available). Among those with known prenatal care, 85.0% of white mothers began care during the first trimester; 72.2% of black mothers did so. (U.S. figures show that 88.9% of white mothers and 76.5% of black mothers had first trimester care.) No prenatal care was received by 0.7% of white mothers and by 1.4% of black mothers.

Over one-fourth (26.4%) of the 20,834 births in 2005 were to mothers who smoked during their pregnancies, while 0.4% of births were to women who used alcohol. National figures from 2004 show that 10.2% of women giving birth reported smoking during pregnancy and 0.8% used alcohol. Among the state mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy, 15.0% of the babies born were low birthweight, compared with 7.5% among non-smoking mothers. U.S. statistics from 2002 indicate that 12.2% of births to smoking mothers were low birthweight compared with 7.5% among non-smoking mothers. Over one-third (34.1%) of 2005 state births were delivered by Cesarean section, compared with a 2004 national rate of 29.1%. One or more complications of labor and/or delivery were reported for 32.9% of deliveries in the state in 2005.

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The number of West Virginia resident deaths decreased by three, from 20,776 in 2004 to 20,773 in 2005. The state’s crude death rate was unchanged from 2004 at 11.4 per 1,000 population in 2005. The average age at death for West Virginians was 72.4 (68.9 for men and 75.8 for women), slightly lower than the 2004 average of 72.5 (69.0 for men and 75.9 for women). One hundred and forty-five West Virginia residents who died in 2005 were age 100 or older. The oldest woman was 108 years old at the time of death, while the oldest man was 105 years old.

Heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases, the three leading causes of death, accounted for 55.3% of West Virginia resident deaths in 2005. Compared with 2004, the number of state deaths due to heart disease decreased 2.2% while cancer deaths decreased 1.6%. Deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases, which surpassed stroke for the fifth time in the past six years, increased 9.4%, while stroke mortality decreased 0.6%. Diabetes mellitus deaths decreased 10.6%, while the number of reported deaths due to pneumonia and influenza decreased 1.0% from 2004 to 2005. Alzheimer’s disease, now the seventh leading cause of death in the Mountain State for the third year in a row, increased by 23 deaths or 4.5%. Accident mortality dropped only by six (0.5%), from 1,104 in 2004 to 1,098 in 2005. Motor vehicle accident deaths continued to number fewer than the 435 deaths in 1993, the year the West Virginia seatbelt law took effect; they decreased by 17 (4.2%), from 408 in 2004 to 391 in 2005. Accidental poisoning deaths have been on the rise in West Virginia for the past five years, from 58 in 2000 to 127 in 2001, 156 in 2002, 252 in 2003, 306 in 2004, and 336 in 2005. The vast majority of these deaths were due to both legal and illicit ingestion of prescription over the counter pharmaceuticals.

Accidents were the leading cause of death for ages one through 44 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 27.4% of all deaths for this age group in 2005, compared with 26.0% in 2004. West Virginia’s 2005 motor vehicle fatalities included three children under five years of age, compared with five in 2004. Accidental poisoning accounted for 22.3% of all deaths in the age group of 15-34.

Suicides decreased by nine (281 to 272, or 3.2%) between 2004 and 2005. Male suicides decreased by 11 or 4.7 %, from 235 in 2004 to 224 in 2005; the number of female suicides (48) increased by two or 4.3% from 2004. Over seventy percent (71.7%) of all suicide deaths were firearm related — 76.3% of male suicides and 50.0% of female suicides. The average age of death for a suicide victim in 2005 was 48.9 years. While suicide was the 11th leading cause of death overall, it was the third leading cause of death for ages 15-34. The number of suicides among persons aged 19 and under was 16 in 2005.

Homicides increased by 19, from 79 in 2004 to 98 in 2005. Sixty-five (65) of the homicide victims were male, 33 were female. The average age at death for a homicide victim in 2005 was 34.4 years. There were six homicide victims under the age of five in 2005, compared with two in 2004. Nearly sixty percent (59.2%) of 2005 homicide deaths were due to firearms.

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Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL)

YPLL is a measure of mortality, calculated as the difference between age 75 (an average life span) and the age at death. Using YPLL before age 75, the sum of YPLL across all causes of death represents the total YPLL for all persons dying before the age of 75. A person dying at the age of 45 would therefore contribute 30 years to the total YPLL (75-45=30). YPLL is an important tool in emphasizing and evaluating causes of premature death.

The YPLL from all causes increased slightly, by 1.7%, from 160,916 YPLL in 2004 to 163,704 in 2005. The four leading causes of YPLL in 2005 were malignant neoplasms (35,854 YPLL), diseases of the heart (26,220 YPLL), non-motor vehicle accidents (17,735 YPLL), and motor vehicle accidents (12,938 YPLL). Combined, these four causes accounted for over half (56.7%) of all years of potential life lost in 2005. In comparison to 2004, YPLL attributable to malignant neoplasms increased from 21.5% to 21.9%. YPLL due to diseases of the heart increased from 15.3% to 16.0% of the total, and YPLL due to non-motor vehicle accidents increased from 10.3% to 10.8%. The percentage of total YPLL due to motor vehicle crashes decreased, from 8.5% to 7.9%.

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Infant Deaths

Deaths of infants under one year of age rose by 10, from 158 in 2004 to 168 in 2005. West Virginia’s infant mortality rate also increased, from 7.6 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 8.1 in 2005. The U.S. infant mortality was 6.8 in 2004 (the latest data available).

The following table shows the decline in the national and state infant mortality rates from 1950 through 2005.

1950-2005 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
1995 7.6 7.5
2000 7.6 6.9
2001 7.3 6.9
2002 9.1 7.0
2003 7.3 6.9
2004 7.6 6.8
2005 8.1 N/A

The state’s 2005 white infant mortality rate increased 6.8%, from 7.4 in 2004 to 7.9, while the rate for black infants increased 4.6%, from 15.1 to 15.8 (see Statistical Variation on page 9). West Virginia’s 2005 race-specific infant mortality rates and comparable 2004 U.S. rates are shown in the following table.

2005 West Virginia and 2004 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 168 8.1 27,835 6.8
White 157 7.9 18,243 5.7
Black 11 15.8 8,347 13.5
Other 0 0.0 1,245 4.6

Approximately one in four (24.4%) infant deaths in 2005 was due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Close to twenty percent (19.6%) were the result of congenital malformations, while 45.2% were due to certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, including disorders relating to short gestation and unspecified low birthweight (10.7%).

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Neonatal/Postneonatal Deaths

The number of neonatal deaths rose by five, from 101 in 2004 to 106 in 2005; the neonatal death rate also increased, from 4.8 deaths among infants under 28 days per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 5.1 in 2005. Neonatal deaths comprised 63.1% of all West Virginia resident infant deaths in 2005, compared with 63.9% in 2004. The rate of postneonatal deaths increased from 2.8 deaths per 1,000 neonatal survivors in 2004 to 3.0 in 2005. The 2004 U.S. neonatal death rate was 4.5, while the postneonatal rate was 2.3 deaths per 1,000 neonatal survivors. U.S. neonatal and postneonatal data for 2005 were not available at the time of this publication.

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Fetal Deaths

The 115 resident fetal deaths occurring after 20 or more weeks of gestation reported in 2005 were 20 fewer than in 2004 (135). The fetal death ratio also decreased, from 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 5.5 in 2005. The majority (90.4%) of fetal deaths were due to conditions originating in the perinatal period, including complications of placenta, cord, and membrane (33.0%), maternal conditions (4.3%), maternal complications (13.0%), short gestation and low birthweight (7.8%), and other ill-defined perinatal conditions (24.3%). Congenital malformations accounted for 9.6% of all fetal deaths.

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For the fifth year in a row and following a dramatic increase due to the passage of a new law that became effective June 2, 1999*, the number of marriages in West Virginia decreased from 13,622 in 2004 to 13,423 in 2005. The marriage rate in 2005 was 7.4 per 1,000 population, down from 7.5 in 2004. The 2005 U.S. provisional rate was 7.5. (*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.)

For all marriages in 2005, the median age was 26 for brides and 29 for grooms. For first marriages, the median age for brides was 23; for grooms it was 25. The mode (most frequently reported age) for all marriages was 22 for brides and 25 for grooms, while for first marriages the mode was 22 for both brides and grooms.

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Divorces and Annulments

The number of divorces increased by 120 or 1.3%, from 9,149 in 2004 to 9,269 in 2005. The 2005 rate of 5.1 per 1,000 population was up slightly from the 2004 rate of 5.0.

Of the 9,269 divorces in West Virginia in 2005, the median duration of marriage was six years. Over half (53.6%) of the divorces involved no children under 18 years of age in the family, while one child was involved in 23.4% of all divorces and two children were involved in 16.7%. Seven divorces involved six children.

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Induced Termination of Pregnancy (ITOP)

The annual reporting of induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP), also properly referred to as “induced abortion,” was mandated in the latest revision of the West Virginia Code. An ITOP is a purposeful interruption of an intrauterine pregnancy with the intention other than to produce a live-born infant and which does not result in a live birth. The management of prolonged retention of products of conception following fetal death is excluded. The major distinguishing feature of this event is the fact that it is “purposeful” rather than spontaneous. A spontaneous interruption of a pregnancy is also known as a fetal death or a spontaneous abortion or, more commonly, as a miscarriage or a stillbirth.

One of the primary differences between the reporting of ITOP data and birth and death statistics is that ITOP statistics reflect events that occurred in West Virginia. Due to long standing interjurisdictional exchange agreements with other states, births and deaths to West Virginia residents that occur elsewhere are reported back to West Virginia, making it possible to ascertain the number of births and deaths among West Virginia residents in a given time frame regardless as to where the event occurred. Information on the number of West Virginia residents who obtain an ITOP in another state is infrequently reported back to West Virginia by the state where the procedure took place, normally due to restrictions within the other state’s legal code.

The only two free-standing clinics that perform ITOPs on demand in West Virginia are in Charleston, which makes the likelihood of out-of-state ITOPs greater in some regions of the state. It is unlikely that the majority of women living in the northern and eastern panhandles of the state seek an ITOP in West Virginia. Due to known incomplete reporting, therefore, the procedures performed on West Virginia residents in other states have been excluded from the compiled statistics.

In 2005, there were 1,674 ITOPs performed in West Virginia, 13.9% fewer than in 2004 (1,945). Six out of every seven (86.6%) 2005 ITOPs involved a West Virginia resident, while 7.0% were Ohio residents and 5.6% were residents of Kentucky, compared with 2004 percentages of 90.2%, 4.9%, and 3.8%, respectively. The median age of women having an ITOP in both 2004 and 2005 was 24. There were 105 procedures in 2005 involving females under the age of 18, of which 96 were to unemancipated minors (see Definitions), compared with 111 in 2004, of which 102 were unemancipated minors.

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Declaration of Paternity Affidavit

A declaration of paternity affidavit, commonly called a paternity affidavit or a paternity acknowledgment, is a legal instrument signed by both parents in which both attest to the paternity of their child. In most situations, paternity affidavits are used when the mother was unmarried at the time of conception or birth. It is unlawful to file a certificate of live birth with a father for a birth to a woman who was unmarried at the time of conception or birth without having first received an acceptable declaration of paternity affidavit or an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. Under WV State Code and, generally, nationwide, the husband of a woman at the time of the conception or birth of her child is presumed to be the legal father of the child. Until July of 2006, the birth certificate for a child born in wedlock could only bear the name of the mother’s husband unless there was a court order that specified otherwise. In July 2006, an administrative procedure was put in place to allow a mother, her husband, and a putative father to attest that the husband was not the father and that the putative father was the biological father. This “three-way” paternity process is in use in over half of the states in the nation.

There were 21,150 babies born in West Virginia during 2005 (see differences between residence and occurrence in Methodology). Of those, 7,964 or 37.7% were born to unmarried mothers, compared with 35.7% in 2004. A father was established through a paternity affidavit in 5,199 or 65.3% of the unmarried births (24.6% of all occurrence births) in 2005, compared with 62.2% of unmarried births or 22.2% of all births in 2004.

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The number of West Virginia resident births decreased by 77 from 20,911 in 2004 to 20,834 in 2005. West Virginia resident deaths only decreased by three (20,776 in 2004 to 20,773) in 2005. The number of infant deaths increased by 10, from 158 in 2004 to 168 in 2005. Fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks gestation dropped from 135 in 2004 to 115 in 2005. Marriages decreased for the fifth time in seven years, from 13,622 in 2004 to 13,423 in 2005, while divorces increased from 9,149 in 2004 to 9,269 in 2005. Abortions in West Virginia dropped from 1,945 in 2004 to 1,674 in 2005. A father was established through a paternity affidavit in 5,199 (or 24.6%) of the births occurring in West Virginia.

This is the first year for which data on induced termination of pregnancy and paternity affidavits have been included in this annual publication. However, these data are available for prior years by specific request.

Cover -- 2005 WV vital annual report - 89K

Last updated May 07, 2007.

If you have further questions about West Virginia Vital Statistics data, contact the Health Statistics Center at:
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