U.S. Mortality Drops Sharply in 2006, Latest Data Show

The information below was provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which published this summary of findings from its report on life expectancy.

To see press releases and fact sheets from prior years' reports, click here.

Click here for the full report.

Summary of Findings

Age-adjusted death rates in the United States declined significantly between 2005 and 2006 and life expectancy hit another record high, according to preliminary death statistics released today by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.


The 2006 age-adjusted death rate fell to 776.4 deaths per 100,000 population from 799 deaths per 100,000 in 2005. In addition, death rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States all dropped significantly in 2006, including a very sharp drop in mortality from influenza and pneumonia.

Other findings in the report:

Life expectancy at birth hit a new record high in 2006 of 78.1 years, a 0.3 increase from 2005. Record high life expectancy was recorded for both white males and black males (76 years and 70 years, respectively) as well as for white females and black females (81 years and 76.9 years).

The preliminary number of deaths in the United States in 2006 was 2,425,900, a 22,117 decrease from the 2005 total. With a rapidly growing older population, declines in the number of deaths (as opposed to death rates) are unusual, and the 2006 decline is likely the result of more mild influenza mortality in 2006 compared with 2005.

Between 2005 and 2006, the largest decline in age-adjusted death rates occurred for influenza and pneumonia, with a 12.8 percent decline. Other declines were observed for chronic lower respiratory diseases (6.5 percent), stroke (6.4 percent), heart disease (5.5 percent), diabetes (5.3 percent), hypertension (5 percent), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (3.3 percent), suicide (2.8 percent), septicemia or blood poisoning (2.7 percent), cancer (1.6 percent) and accidents (1.5 percent).

There were an estimated 12,045 deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2006, and age-adjusted death rates from the disease declined 4.8 percent from 2005.

The preliminary infant mortality rate for 2006 was 6.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2005 rate of 6.9.

Alzheimer's disease passed diabetes to become the sixth leading cause of death in the United States in 2006. An estimated 72,914 Americans died of Alzheimer's disease in 2006. However, the preliminary age-adjusted death rate from Alzheimer's did not change significantly between 2005 and 2006.

The data are based on over 95 percent of death certificates collected in all 50 states and the District of Columbia as part of the National Vital Statistics System.