West Virginia's births increased by 261 between 2002 and 2003, from 20,725 to 20,986.

According to information provided on birth certificates, 86 percent of West Virginia mothers began prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy. Births to teens decreased from 2,646 in 2002 to 2,576 in 2003.

There was an increase of nearly 8,500 in the state's population from 2002 to 2003. Sixty percent (33) of the counties in West Virginia increased in population during this period.

The state's infant mortality decreased substantially, from 188 (9.1 per 1,000 live births) in 2002 to 153 (7.3 per 1,000) in 2003. The provisional 2003 U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.9.

Of all women giving birth in 2003, 26 percent reported smoking during pregnancy. Only three-tenths percent of state births were to women who reported drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Over 30 percent of 2003 state births were delivered by Cesarean section, compared to a national rate of 28 percent. Overall state deaths increased by 300 in 2003 to 21,299 from 20,999 in 2002.

Heart disease and cancer still remain the first and second leading causes of death, respectively, with little change between 2002 and 2003. Diabetes deaths decreased by 5.9 percent (843 in 2002 to 793 in 2003).

Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) increased 6.5 percent (1,235 in 2002 to 1,315 in 2003) and replaced stroke as the third leading cause of death for the third time in the past four years. Stroke increased 4.9 percent (1,237 to 1,298 in 2000).

Alzheimer's disease is now the seventh leading cause of death. The average age at death was 69.0 years old for men, 76.3 for women.

Suicides increased by only one, from 277 in 2002 to 278 in 2003; 71 percent of all suicides in 2003 were firearm related. Of the 92 homicides in the state during 2003 (down from 98 in 2002), 69 percent were attributed to firearms.

The number of marriages decreased for the third time in a row, from 14,558 in 2002 to 13,697 in 2003. Divorces also decreased from 9,442 in 2002 to 9,335 in 2003.

The most frequently reported age for all marriages was 23 for brides and grooms, while the median duration of marriages ending in divorce was six years.

The report also includes a trivia page, which shows the most births in 2003 occurred on September 10, while the most deaths occurred on December 5. The most popular names for baby boys were Jacob, Ethan, Tyler, Hunter, and Austin; the most popular girls' names were Madison, Emily, Hannah, Emma, and Alexis.

This report can be obtained from the state Health Statistics Center at (304) 558-9100 or accessed on-line by the end of July at   www.wvdhhr.org

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