New CDC Report on U.S. Mortality Patterns

For Release: September 25, 2001

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


Deaths: Final Data for 1999. NVSR Volume 49, No. 8. 114 pp. (PHS) 2001-1120. pdf icon[PDF – 1 MB]

Deaths: Final Data for 1999,” prepared by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, is a comprehensive report on mortality patterns in the United States, based on all death records in the United States for 1999. This latest report incorporates several significant methodological changes, including a more up-to-date age distribution for the U.S. population for calculating age-adjusted death rates and an updated cause-of-death classification and coding system–the Tenth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, issued by the World Health Organization (ICD-10).

Highlights of the report include:

  • Life expectancy for the U.S. population remained unchanged at 76.7 years in 1999. However, life expectancy increased for men from 73.8 years to 73.9 years between 1998 and 1999, while decreasing for women over the same period (from 79.5 years to 79.4 years).
  • The infant mortality rate inched down to 7.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1999, compared with 7.2 in 1998. Nearly 1 in 10 infant deaths were from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There were a total of 2,648 deaths from SIDS in 1999, down from 2,822 deaths in 1998.
  • Age-adjusted death rates decreased for 6 of the 15 leading causes of death between 1998 and 1999, including cancer (less than 1 percent); stroke (nearly 2 percent); influenza/pneumonia (2.5 percent); suicide (over 5 percent); homicide (4.6 percent); and aortic aneurysm (nearly 5 percent).
  • Age-adjusted death rates increased for 5 of the 15 leading causes of death, including septicemia (6.6 percent); hypertension (5 percent); chronic lower respiratory diseases (4 percent), and diabetes (3.3 percent).
  • Age-adjusted death rates for three leading causes of death, heart disease, accidents or “unintentional injuries,” and chronic liver disease, did not change significantly between 1998 and 1999.
  • The new cause-of-death classification system resulted in a significant shift in ranking for Alzheimer’s disease. In 1998 Alzheimer’s disease ranked 12th among leading causes of death but jumped to 8th in 1999, due mainly to the inclusion of a cause of death formerly classified separately as “presenile dementia,” which accounted for a substantial number of additional Alzheimer’s deaths in 1999. In total there were 44,536 deaths from Alzheimer’s disease in 1999.
  • Mortality from HIV infection, which dropped more than 70 percent over the previous three years (1996-98), continued to decline at a much slower pace in 1999, decreasing nearly 4 percent. Though it is no longer ranked among the leading causes of death in the United States, HIV infection still ranks fifth among 25-44 year-olds, and is the leading cause of death for black men in this age group. Among black women in this age group, HIV ranks third.
  • In 1999 a total of 28,874 persons died from firearm injuries in the United States, down nearly 6 percent from the 30,625 deaths in 1998.
  • In 1999 a total of 19,102 persons died of drug-induced causes, which includes not only deaths from dependent and nondependent use of drugs, but also poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs. This does not include deaths from accidents, homicides, or other causes indirectly related to drug use.
  • A total of 19,171 persons died in 1999 from alcohol-induced causes, which includes dependent and nondependent use of alcohol and accidental poisoning from alcohol. This total excludes accidents, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to alcohol use. The total also excludes deaths from fetal alcohol syndrome.

“Deaths: Final Data for 1999” can be viewed or downloaded from the CDC Home Page

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Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006