U.S. Life Expectancy Hits Another High

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a preliminary report this week on the life expectancy of a baby born in 2009.  

The life expectancy estimate of 78 years and 2 months for a baby born in 2009 is two months higher than what the CDC gave to a baby born in 2008. Women are still expected to outlive men, with average life expectancy at 75.5 for men and 80.5 for women.

The Associated Press is reporting about 2.4 million people died in the U.S. in 2009 — roughly 36,000 fewer deaths than the previous year. Deaths were down for a range of causes, from heart disease to homicide, so experts can’t give one explanation for the increase in life expectancy; better medical treatment, vaccination campaigns and public health measures against smoking are commonly believed to attribute to the longer life spans.

The CDC report also said infant mortality rate hit a record low of 6.42 deaths per 1,000 live births, a drop of nearly 3% from 2008.

Other highlights from the 2009 report include:

  • Death rates declined slightly for 10 of the 15 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, homicide and influenza and pneumonia.
  • Suicide passed blood infections to become the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide rates did not change significantly, but the blood infection death rate dropped nearly 2%. That puts suicide back in the top 10 causes of deaths for the first time since 1999.
  • The influenza/pneumonia death rate dropped nearly 5%, even though 2009 was the year that the swine flu pandemic hit.