CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fewer West Virginia teenagers had babies in 2010 than in 2009, but the state still ranks among the 10 highest in the country for children born to teenage mothers, according to a study released to Tuesday from Kids Count West Virginia.
The teen birth rate for West Virginia and the nation had been on the decrease for decades until 2006 and 2007, when both rates increased. In 2008, the national rate declined again, while West Virginia's rate continued to increase.
But the latest data shows that in 2010, West Virginia's teen birth rate fell to 45 births per 1,000 teenage girls. That's down from 50 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2009.
Officials are hopeful, but they aren't sure what to make of the decline.
"You don't know if it's a trend or just a one-year oddity," said Margie Hale, executive director of West Virginia Kids Count.
At 45 per 1,000 teenage girls, West Virginia's teen birth rate is still higher than the national rate of 34. The state ranks 40th for teen births, according to Kids Count.
One in seven teenage girls in West Virginia will have a baby. One in eight babies in the state is born to a teenager, according to Kids Count.