Death Rates Down for Many, Hit Record Low for US Infants

Marcia Frellick

December 11, 2015

Infant mortality in the United States dropped 2.3% in 2014 and has hit a record low, and death rates for some leading causes of death also declined significantly, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The infant mortality rate, considered a good indicator of the overall health of a population, stands at 582.1 infant deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the CDC.

The report, by Sherry L. Murphy, BS, from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues, was published online December 9.

The leading causes of infant death were the same in 2014 as in 2013. Congenital malformation was the top cause, followed by low birth rate. The only big change among leading causes was a 13.5% drop in deaths from respiratory distress of newborn.

The 10 leading causes of death in 2014 remained the same as in 2013, with heart disease and cancer at the top. From 2013 to 2014, age-adjusted death rates significantly decreased for five of the 10 leading causes of death and significantly increased for four of them. Rates decreased for heart disease by 1.6%; cancer, 1.2%; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 3.8%; diabetes, 1.4%; and influenza and pneumonia were each down by 5%.

Alzheimer's Climb Continues

The biggest increase among the top causes of death was Alzheimer's disease, at 8.1%. The other causes that saw increases were unintentional injuries, 2.8%; stroke, 0.8%; and suicide, 3.2%. The rate for kidney disease in 2014 remained the same as in 2013.

Overall life expectancy in the United States remained at 78.8 years (81.2 for women and 76.4 for men). The age-adjusted death rate dipped 1% to 724.6 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2014, down from 731.9 in 2013. Decreases are small year-by-year, but the age-adjusted death rate in the United States decreased 16.6% between 2000 (869.0) and 2014 (724.6), according to the report.

Decreases in the age-adjusted death rate came across the board for sex and race. The decreases from 2014 were: non-Hispanic black males (2.1%), non-Hispanic black females (1.3%), non-Hispanic white males (0.5%), non-Hispanic white females (0.7%), Hispanic males (2.0%), and Hispanic females (2.5%).

At age 65 years, life expectancy for the total population was 19.3 years, which was unchanged from 2013. And as has traditionally been the case, women at age 65 years had a few more years of life expectancy than did their male counterparts, at 20.5 years vs 18 years for men.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

"Mortality in the United States, 2014." NCHS Data Brief 229. Published online December 9, 2015. Full text

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