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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 (2020)

​The number of resident births decreased from 18,090 in 2019 to 17,327 in 2020. The number of births to teenage mothers also decreased. Births to unmarried mothers rose again in 2020 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 69.5% of these births, decreasing from 71.8% in 2019.  Of the women who gave birth in 2020, 79.6% received prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy while 21.3% smoked during pregnancy. The percentage of low birthweight babies decreased from 9.8% in 2019 to 9.3% in 2020. In 2020, 34.1% of all West Virginia resident babies were delivered by Cesarean section.

The number of resident deaths increased from 23,291 in 2019 to 26,108 in 2020. The average age at death for West Virginians was 69.0 for men and 74.9 for women. Heart disease, the leading cause of death in West Virginia for the fifth consecutive year, cancer, accidents, and chronic lower respiratory disease were the four leading causes of death, accounting for 52.5% of all deaths among West Virginia residents. COVID-19 was the fifth leading cause of death, with 1,480 deaths occurring in 2020. Motor vehicle traffic accident deaths decreased from 330 in 2019 to 302 in 2020.

The infant death rate increased from 6.2 per 1,000 live births in 2019 to 7.6 in 2020. The number of deaths among infants under one year of age increased from 112 in 2019 to 131 in 2020. Over 80.0% of infant deaths (80.1%) were due to conditions originating in the perinatal period, congenital malformations, and SUIDS (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome). The fetal death ratio remained at 4.8 per 1,000 live births for 2020. All 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 1,001 ITOP performed in the state in 2020 compared with 1,332 in 2019. In 2020, 32 of these procedures involved a minor under the age of 18 compared with 43 in 2019.

The number of marriages decreased for the ninth year in a row, from 10,705 in 2019 to 10,030 in 2020. Divorces decreased from 6,535 in 2019 to 5,445 in 2020.

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 below as well as previous reports.