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Vital Statistics


The Vital Statistics System (VSS) is the name of the surveillance system HSC uses for all vital event data. The two most commonly used VSS data sources are birth certificates and death certificates. Birth certificates are completed by hospitals, birthing centers, etc. and transferred to HSC. Death certificates are completed by funeral home directors, medical examiners, physicians, hospitals, etc. and transferred to HSC. HSC has a team of epidemiologists and research specialists who analyze the VSS and BRFSS datasets and produce state and county level health statistics. Data collected include details about births and deaths that occurred in West Virginia and vital events that occurred in another state among West Virginia residents.

Statistical Services staff analyze birth, death, marriage, divorce, fetal death, and induced termination of pregnancy records to track demographic trends and to identify characteristics of births and deaths in West Virginia and publish the results in an annual report. The most recent Vital Statistics report was published in December 2022 and includes statistics from data collected in 2019. The report covers the number of births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages, and induced terminations of pregnancy that occurred in West Virginia or among West Virginia residents. Reports from previous years are accessible below.

Key Findings from the Vital Statistics Report (2019)

​The number of births decreased (18,243 to 18,090) from 2018 to 2019. In 2015, state births dropped below 20,000 for the first time on record. The births to teenage mothers also decreased. Births to unmarried mothers rose again in 2019 as more than two out of every five births continue to occur out of wedlock. Among the unmarried mothers giving birth in West Virginia, a father was established through a paternity affidavit in 71.8% of these births, increasing from 71.0% in 2018. Of the women who gave birth in 2019, 79.9% received prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy while 23.0% smoked during pregnancy. The percentage of low birthweight babies increased from 9.4% in 2018 to 9.8% in 2019. In 2019, 34.2% of all babies were delivered by Cesarean section.

The number of deaths decreased by 171 in 2019 as compared to 2018. The average age at death for West Virginians was 69.4 for men and 75.1 for women. Heart disease, the leading cause of death in West Virginia for the fourth consecutive year, cancer, accidents, and chronic lower respiratory disease were the four leading causes of death, accounting for 56.8% of all deaths among West Virginia residents. Motor vehicle traffic accident deaths decreased by only 3 in 2019, from 333 to 330.

The infant death rate decreased from 7.0 per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 6.2 in 2019. The number of deaths to infants under one year of age decreased by 16 from 128 to 112. Over 80.0% of infant deaths (82.1%) were due to conditions originating in the perinatal period, congenital malformations, and SUIDS (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome). The fetal death ratio decreased from 5.6 per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 4.8 in 2019. Almost all (87.2%) of fetal deaths were due to conditions originating in the perinatal period.

The ITOP section contains statistics for terminations performed in West Virginia only. There were 1,332 ITOPs performed in the state in 2019 compared with 1,508 in 2018. In 2019, 43 of these procedures involved a minor under the age of 18 compared with 42 in 2018.

The number of marriages decreased for the eighth year in a row, from 10,950 in 2018 to 10,705. Divorces increased from 5,879 in 2018 to 6,535 in 2019.

Other statistics from the report are available on our Most Requested Statistics page.

West Virginia Vital Statistics Reports

The West Virginia Vital Statistics Report provides statistics on live births, deaths, fetal deaths, abortions, marriages, and divorces for a variety of users. The most recent West Virginia Vital Statistics Report is available here.  Previous reports are available below.