Drop in Life Expectancy in 2008 Sends Wake-Up Call

Life expectancy dropped for only the third time in 25 years in the U.S. in 2008.A dip in U.S. life expectancy does not happen very often, but that’s exactly what took place in 2008, as reported today by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Babies born in 2008 can expect to live an average of 1/10 of one year less than babies born in 2007. Sure, it’s only 36.5 days less, but many in the medical community are taking a hard look at the new statistics. One year does not make a trend, but conditions such as obesity/diabetes clearly are on the radar of many who are in medicine.

Whites caused the overall trend in 2008, because their life expectancy fell a full 73 days.  But there was actually plenty of good news among the report’s stats, including:old man with baby - life expectancy dropped for babies born in 2008.

  • Life expectancy for Black men rose to an all-time high of 70.2 years. 
  • Infant mortality fell 2.4 percent to 6.59 deaths for every 1,000 births. 
  • Heart disease deaths fell by 2.2 percent. 
  • Cancer rates saw a 1.6 percent decline. 
  • Stroke death rates were down 3.8 percent. 
  • Diabetes deaths fell by 3.1 percent (which seems to indicate the obesity trend may not have taken its course as of yet). 
  • Deaths in accidents dropped 3.5 percent (less people travel during a recession). 
  • Homicides declined by 3.3 percent (a longstanding trend for recessions). 

Of course, the statistics were much more grim for some causes of mortality.Life expectancy for Whites dropped about 73 days in 2008.

  • Suicide rates climbed 2.7 percent (the recession had just taken hold in 2008). 
  • Flu and pneumonia rates rose 4.9 percent. 
  • Alzheimer’s disease spiked 7.5 percent (although it is thought this could be due to an overall improvement in treating other diseases before Alzheimer’s sets in).  

Although heart disease and cancer still cause almost half of all deaths (48 percent) in the U.S., chronic respiratory disease is now the third-leading cause of death due to changes in the way the World Health Organization requires those fatalities to be reported. Still, conditions such as asthma and emphysema have overtaken stroke as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Bloomberg reported that the 2008 drop in life expectancy was the first in the U.S. since 1993, and U.S. News & World Report noted there was also a drop in 1980. Here’s a life expectancy chart that shows the pointed and rather steady climb in how long Americans can expect to live, which the Census Bureau says is projected to reach 81.9 for women and 77.1 for men in 2020.

Despite the general climb in life expectancy, the U.S. ranks only 38 or 39 in the world in this area behind many other less-developed countries.

Leave a Reply

Generic Viagra, Cialis or Propecia