American life expectancy reaches an all-time high of 78

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a child born in the United States in 2005 can expect to live nearly 78 years.

This increase in life expectancy is the country's highest on record and represents a continuation of a long-running trend.

The report from the CDC is based on the deaths recorded in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for 2005 and it documents the latest trends in the leading causes of death and infant mortality.

It highlights the continuing reduction in deaths in the U.S. from the three major killers, heart disease, cancer and stroke, which is thought to be the result of better prevention efforts and medical advances in the treatments of these diseases.

The CDC says if the death rates from these leading causes of death continue to decline, more improvements in life expectancy will be seen.

The death rates for Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, both increased approximately 5 percent between 2004 and 2005 and an increase was also seen in the infant mortality rate, but it is not considered statistically significant.

Birth defects, were the leading cause of infant mortality in 2005, followed by disorders related to preterm birth and low birthweight; Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was the third leading cause of infant death in the United States.

Black babies under age 1 remained far more likely to die than white babies.

According to earlier data the United States ranks 42nd in the world in life expectancy.

White Americans can expect to live longer than blacks, and women longer than men, says the CDC, which reflects continuing disparities.

CDC statistician Hsiang-Ching Kung, who worked on the report, says if death rates from certain leading causes of death continue to decline, continued improvements should be seen in life expectancy.

The full report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/. Final U.S. mortality data for 2005 will not be available until next year.

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