A preliminary report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based on national statistics for 2005 puts life expectancy in the US at 78 years, a figure that has been increasing steadily over the last 50 years. In 1995 life expectancy in the US was 76 years and in 1955 it was 70 years. Racial and gender differences in life expectancy are also reducing.

More specifically, the new life expectancy figure means that a child born in the United States in 2005 can expect to live 77.9 years, said the report issued from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) that is based on 99 per cent of death records from all 50 states and District of Columbia for 2005.

The report also shows mortality trends in the leading causes of death, including infant mortality.

Deaths from the US’s three leading killers, heart disease, cancer and stroke, are goind down, which according to one of the report’s authors, Dr Hsiang-Ching Kung, a survey statistician at NCHS is:

“Most likely due to better prevention efforts and medical advances in the treatments of these diseases.”

“If death rates from certain leading causes of death continue to decline, we should continue to see improvements in life expectancy,” added Hsiang-Ching Kung.

The 15 leading causes of death in the US in 2005 were: (1) heart disease, (2) cancer, (3) stroke, (4) chronic lower respiratory diseases, (5) accidental injuries, (6) diabetes, (7) Alzheimer’s, (8) flu and pneumonia, (9) kidney disease, (10) septicemia, (11) suicide, (12) chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, (13) high blood pressure, (14) Parkinson’s, and (15) homicide.

The report also shows that:

  • Life expectancy for whites was 78.3 in 2005, the same as it was in 2004.
  • Life expectancy for blacks went up from 73.1 in 2004 to 73.2 in 2005.
  • The life expectancy for women is 5.2 years more than for men in 2005, the smallest gap since 1946.
  • The age adjusted death rate in the US in 2005 fell to under 800 deaths per 100,000, the lowest it has ever been.
  • The age adjusted rate of death from heart disease went down from 217 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 210.3 in 2005.
  • For cancer the drop was from 185.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 183.8 in 2005.
  • For stroke the drop was from 50 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 46.6 in 2005.
  • In contrast, the age adjusted rate of death due to Alzheimer’s went up by 5 per cent from 2004 to 2005.
  • For Parkinson’s the rate also went up by 5 per cent from 2004 to 2005.

Early estimates suggest that infant mortality in the US went up from 6.79 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 6.89 in 2005, but this was not thought to be statistically significant.

The 10 leading causes of death in infants in 2005 were: (1) birth defects, (2) low birthweight, (3) sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), (4) maternal complications, (5) cord and placental complications, (6) accidental injury, (7) newborn respiratory distress, (8) sepsis of newborn, (9) neonatal hemorrhage, and (10) necrotizing enterocolitis of newborn.

The final US mortality data for 2005 will not be available until next year.

“Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2005.”
Dr Hsiang-Ching Kung, Donna L. Hoyert, Jiaquan Xu, Sherry L. Murphy.
CDC: National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics.
Health E-Stats. Sept 2007.

Click here for the full report.

Written by: Catharine Paddock