U.S. Life Expectancy Increased Slightly in 2009

Average life expectancy was 78.2 years in 2009, up from 78 years in 2008.
Average life expectancy was 78.2 years in 2009, up from 78 years in 2008.

The average life expectancy in the United States increased by about ten weeks from 2008 to 2009, according to a new report.

Life expectancy grew to 78.2 years, according to the preliminary report released yesterday (March 16) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It had been 78 years in 2008.

Because the report is preliminary — a final report is expected later this year — it's impossible to speculate on why life expectancy rose from 2008 to 2009, said study researcher Ken Kochanek of the National Center for Health Statistics.

Men, whose life expectancy had been five years shorter than women's, narrowed the gap slightly. U.S. males could expect to live to 75.7 years on average, up from 75.5 years in 2008, while expectancy for women increased to 80.6 years from 80.5.

The study found that white females lived the longest in 2009, followed by black females, white males and black males.

At the same time, the infant death rate decreased, to 6.42 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, from a rate of 6.59 in 2008, the study said.

Hawaii had the lowest death rate among all states: 619.8 for every 100,000 people, the report said. West Virginia had the highest death rate: 949.6 for every 100,000 people.

Intentional self-harm (suicide), which had been the 11th leading cause of death in 2008, became the 10th leading cause in 2009, according to the report. Meanwhile, septicemia (an infection of the blood, sometimes acquired during surgery) dropped from the 10th leading cause of death to the 11th.

All other leading causes of death remained the same as they were in 2008. The top five were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and accidents.

Kochanek said the 2008 National Vital Statistics Report incorrectly listed life expectancy for 2008 as 77.8 instead of 78 due to a data error. That error was caught and corrected for the 2009 report, he said.

Pass it on: Life expectancy in the United States increased slightly from 2008 to 2009.

This article was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow MyHealthNewsDaily staff writer Amanda Chan on Twitter @AmandaLChan.

Amanda Chan
Amanda Chan was a staff writer for Live Science Health. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.