Top Health Stories of 1999, based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs (301) 458-4800


AIDS Falls From Top 15 Causes Of Death; Homicides Decline; But No Change In Infant Mortality

The age-adjusted death rate from HIV infection in the U.S. declined an estimated 21 percent to the lowest rate since 1987, following a 48-percent decline from 1996 to 1997. AIDS no longer ranks in the top 15 leading causes of death in America. However, for the 25-44 year age group, the disease still ranks fifth and HIV remains the leading cause of death among African American men ages 25-44. The preliminary age-adjusted homicide rate fell an estimated 14 percent in 1998, the fifth straight year of decline. In 1998, the overall infant mortality rate was the same as the record low reported in 1997. It is the first time there has been no improvement in this measure in nearly four decades.

From: “Births and Deaths: Preliminary Data for 1998” pdf icon[PDF – 362 KB]

Decreasing Hospital use for HIV/AIDS

The latest data on hospitalization in the United States show decreasing hospital use for patients with HIV. The findings, which reflect medical advances as well as changes in health policy and health care delivery, show that patients with HIV had 71,000 fewer hospitalizations in 1997 than in 1995, for a 30 percent drop in the rate of hospitalization. Those patients who were hospitalized had shorter stays, resulting in almost 900,000 fewer total days of hospital care for HIV in 1997 compared with 1995.

From: “Decreasing Hospital Use for HIV,” Health E-Stats

Longer Hospital Stay for Childbirth

NCHS reports an increase from 1995 to 1997 in the average length of hospital stay for childbirth in the United States, after a long period of increasingly shorter stays over the past two decades. The average hospital stay for all women who delivered was 2.4 days in 1997 compared with 2.1 days in 1995; in 1980 the average stay was 3.8 days. The number of women hospitalized for 1 day or less for childbirth dropped from 1.4 million in 1995 to 951,000 in 1997. From: “Longer Hospital Stay for Childbirth,” Health E-Stats

New Report Documents Improvements in America’s Health; Best Rating in Two Decades for Annual Review

The annual progress report for Healthy People 2000 shows that the Nation is on track to reach, or has already reached, the targets for more than one-half of its 300 objectives in health promotion and disease prevention. Overall, 15 percent of the objectives have met their targets, including many in such diverse areas as nutrition, maternal and child health, heart disease, and mental health. An additional 44 percent of the objectives are progressing on schedule toward the target. However, the report also shows that a fifth of the objectives are moving away from their targets. Some key objectives, such as reducing the number of overweight individuals and increasing physical activity have either moved in the wrong direction or improved little.

From: “Healthy People 2000 Progress Review, 1998-99” pdf icon[PDF – 2.9 MB]

Teen Birth Rate Continues to Drop; Drives U.S. Birth Rate to Record Low

The national birth rate dropped to a record low in 1997, due in part to the continuing decline in the teen birth rate across the country. Overall, the teen birth rate declined by 16 percent from 1991 to 1997, with all States recording a decline in the birth rate of 15-19 year-olds between 1991 and 1997. It is the sixth year in a row that the teen birth rate has declined.

From: “Births: Final Data for 1997” pdf icon[PDF – 676 KB]

New NHANES Survey

The Nation’s most comprehensive study on the health and nutritional status of Americans began the latest phase in this survey, which will now be conducted on a continuous basis to profile the health of the Nation. Each year, approximately 5,000 randomly selected residents in up to 15 counties across the country will have the opportunity to participate in this latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES has provided much of what is known about heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes and is the source of children’s growth charts used worldwide to measure children’s growth and development.

From: “New NHANES Survey Kicks Off

Annual Report on Nation’s Health Spotlights Elderly

A new report shows that a growing and increasingly diverse elderly population in the U.S. is living longer but still faces health challenges as the next century approaches. Contributing to longer life expectancy is the significant and long-term decline in mortality, especially from heart disease. Death rates from heart disease among persons aged 65-84 years have been reduced by half. The annual “report card” features a special chartbook on the health of the elderly.

From: “Health, United States, 1999, with Health and Aging Chartbook

Attendant, Place and Timing, and Use of Obstetric Interventions of U.S. Births Change Over Past Decade

Midwives and doctors of osteopathy were increasingly more likely to attend births; obstetric procedures, such as electronic fetal monitoring increased substantially; induction of labor doubled; and babies were more frequently delivered on weekdays–just a few of the changes in birth patterns in the United States during the 1990’s. The report also found that for the first time in this decade, the rate of cesarean births increased slightly between 1996 and 1997 after a steady downward trend between 1989 and 1996.

From: Trends in the Attendant, Place, and Timing of Births, and in the Use of Obstetric Interventions: United States, 1989-97

Over One-Half of Americans are Overweight

Data from the newly released 1997 National Health Interview Survey show that more than 50 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, and 1 in 5 adults are obese. Overweight and obesity are risk factors for a variety of chronic health conditions, including hypertension and diabetes. Overweight increased steadily with age, peaking in the age group 45-64 years, and declining somewhat in the older ages. Among those 45-64 years, 70 percent of men and 55 percent of women were overweight.

From: “Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Adults in the United States,” Health E-Stats


Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006