CDC report: US life expectancy drops for first time in 25 years

life expectancy report has good and bad news

A CDC report showed a decline in U.S. life expectancy between 2007 and 2008, but infant mortality reached an all-time low. Image: CC Picasa Web Albums

Life expectancy in the U.S. decreased from 2007 to 2008, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control. Life expectancy in the U.S. increased dramatically from 1960 to 2000. The latest decrease, the first in 25 years, leads some medical experts to suspect a downward trend.

The CDC life expectancy report

Life expectancy in the U.S. regressed slightly more than a month from 77.9 in 2007 to 77.8 in 2008 according to the CDC. Life expectancy for women dropped by a 10th of a year to 80.3. Life expectancy for men also lost the same amount to come in at 75.3. There were racial differences as well. Overall, whites declined 0.2 years, but lived longer than blacks by 4.6 years. Black women held steady at 76.8 years. Although black men live an average of eight years less than white men, they reached a record high of 70.2 years.

Good news about U.S. death rates

The CDC life expectancy report said that overall, death rates from serious diseases dropped, led by decreases in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. Stroke had the most improvement. Vehicle deaths dropped sharply, largely due to the fact that people drove less during the recession. Perhaps most significantly, the infant mortality rates fell to an all time low in 2008 to 6.59 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The CDC said that the infant mortality rate was a key indicator of overall health standards and health care.

Is life expectancy decline a trend?

Medical experts disagree about whether the drop in U.S. life expectancy is an anomaly or a trend. Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, told MSNBC that the decline in life expectancy “is a wake up call.” Richard Rogers at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado said “A one-year change doesn’t really establish a trend.” Dr. William O’Neill at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine told Business Week: “My biggest concern is that we have been seeing this looming epidemic of obesity, and obesity is going to start taking over — obesity leading to diabetes, leading to heart disease, is going to start becoming more of a problem.”


Business Week



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