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Living Longer: Life Expectancy Hits New High

Life Expectancy Is Nearly 78 Years for Babies Born in 2005, Says CDC
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Antioxidants and Womens Heart

Sept. 12, 2007 -- Life expectancy is greater than ever in the U.S., hovering a smidge below 78 years, the CDC today announced.

But America's lengthier life span still lags behind life expectancy in dozens of countries, according to World Health Organization statistics.

A baby born in the U.S. in 2005 has a life expectancy of 77.9 years. That's an extra tenth of a year, compared to life expectancy in 2004, according to the CDC's life expectancy statistics.

The CDC also reports that the top three causes of death -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- declined in 2005, compared with 2004, leading to greater life expectancy. However, heart disease, cancer, and stroke remain the country's top killers.

The life expectancy statistics are based on the CDC's preliminary data on more than 2.4 million deaths nationwide in 2005.

Life Expectancy Details

Life expectancy continues to be greater for women than for men and for whites compared with African-Americans -- but life expectancy edged up enough to reach a record high for African-Americans.

Here are the life expectancies for girls and boys born in 2005:

  • White girl: 80.8 years (unchanged from 2004)
  • White boy: 75.7 years (unchanged from 2004)
  • African-American girl: 76.5 years (up from 76.3 years in 2004)
  • African-American boy: 69.6 years (up from 69.5 years in 2004)

However, 26 countries have higher life expectancies for both men and women, according to the World Health Organization.

Japan has the world's greatest life expectancy for women (86 years) and the European republic of San Marino has the world's greatest life expectancy for men (80 years), according to the World Health Organization.

Top Causes of Death

The top 15 causes of death for 2005 are as follows:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Stroke
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (lung diseases)
  5. Accidents
  6. Diabetes
  7. Alzheimer's disease
  8. Influenza and pneumonia
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Septicemia (a serious infection that affects the blood and other parts of the body)
  11. Suicide
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
  13. High blood pressure
  14. Parkinson's disease
  15. Homicide

In 2005, heart disease killed 210.3 per 100,000 people, down from 217 per 100,000 in 2004.

Cancer deaths dropped from 185.8 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 183.8 per 100,000 in 2005. Stroke killed 50 per 100,000 people in 2004, compared with 46.6 per 100,000 in 2005.

Top Causes of Infant Death

The infant mortality rate for 2005 was 6.89 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. That's up from 6.79 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, but that difference may have been due to chance, notes the CDC.

Once again, there was a race gap in the infant mortality rate (which includes deaths within the first year after birth).

For whites, the infant mortality rate was 5.76 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (up from 5.66 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004). For African-Americans, the infant mortality rate was 13.69 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (down from 13.79 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004).

The top 10 causes of infant mortality for 2005 are as follows:

  1. Birth defects
  2. Low birth weight
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  4. Maternal complications
  5. Placenta, cord, and membrane complications
  6. Accidents
  7. Respiratory distress in newborns
  8. Bacterial sepsis in newborns (a bacterial infection that affects the blood and other parts of the body)
  9. Neonatal hemorrhage (bleeding)
  10. Necrotizing enterocolitis in newborns (serious intestinal disease)

The life expectancy and death statistics are posted on the CDC's web site.

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