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Opiate Overdoses Contribute To Stalling Life Expectancy Trend

Recently released reports show that the life expectancy rate has stalled for the third year in a row for the entire United States. Children that were born last year can expect to live an average of 78.5 years, which is the same prediction that was made for the previous two years. This is startling because since World War 2 the life expectancy has slowly increased across the nation. This has been thanks to public health campaigns, an increase in solid nutrition and education, and medical advances in preventative care. In fact, the last time that the life expectancy stood still for three years was in the mid-1980's.

While there is no current solid data about why the life expectancy rate is no longer increasing, there are theories that suicide rates and fatal drug overdoses are playing a large part. Others wonder if the U.S. life expectancy has peaked due to the nation's issues with obesity and other public health issues, but there is no evidence that this is what is occurring right now. Many officials such as S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, agree that three years is not a solid trend.

Regardless of this, the United States is now behind forty other developed countries when it comes to life expectancy.

Statistics regarding life expectancy is estimated using the ages of death and the cause of their death. They use a statistical model to predict how long someone born today would live if the current trends continue. This report was based on the all of the death certificates from 2014. Last year there were around 2.6 million deaths, which is almost 30,000 more than 2013. This number reflects the U.S. growing and aging population.

The CDC report also found-

-Infant mortality rates have continued to slowly drop and are now at a record low of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births

-The top ten causes of death have not changed. They are heart disease, respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, unintentional injuries and accidents, diabetes, pneumonia and flu, suicide, and kidney disease

-For the top five causes of death, five of their rates fell significantly including the top two of cancer and heart disease

- The largest death rate increase was for Alzheimers by eight percent

-Unintentional injuries and suicides also increased by three percent. This includes deaths from traffic accidents, falls, and drug overdoses in addition to suicides.

Experts state that the opiate epidemic is greatly contributing to the increase in deaths as the overdose rates go up. Overdoses from opiates have been increasing nationwide for the last twenty years. This is primarily from the abuse of prescription pain pills such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Deaths from opiates such as heroin and fentanyl have also been spiking across the U.S. although overdose deaths from these are less common than deaths from opiate prescriptions.

Federal, state, and local agencies are focusing on the rising opiate crisis in an attempt to lower the death rates.


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