The number of deaths in the U.S. increased to 2.44 million in 2005 from 2.39 million in 2004, according to preliminary data released today from the National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md. While the number of deaths increased, the age-adjusted death rate, which accounts for changes in the age distribution of the population, reached a record low of 798.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2005, compared with 800.8 per 100,000 in the previous year. Final U.S. mortality data will not be available until next year.
In 2003 and 2004 we had very mild flu seasons, said Bill Crews, a public information specialist at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In latter 04 and 05 there was much more ordinary flu prevalence, so the aggregate goes up, he explained about the increase in number of deaths for 2005.
The figures also showed an increase in the U.S. infant mortality rate to 6.89 per 1,000 live births in 2005 from 6.79 in 2004. Birth defects were the leading cause of infant mortality, followed by pre-term births and low birth weight, in 2005. Meanwhile, a child born in the U.S. in 2005 can expect to live about 78 years (77.9), continuing a long-running trend of increasing life expectancy. As a comparison, a child born in 1995 could expect to live 75.8 years, and a child born in 1955 could expect to live 69.6 years.
The death rate from heart disease, cancer and strokethe top three causes of U.S. deaths in that order since 1938declined in 2005 compared with 2004. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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