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Death rates declined significantly in the United States between 2005 and 2006, based on new data from the CDC. The age-adjusted rate fell to 776 deaths per 100,000 people in 2006, compared with 799 per 100,000 in 2005. In the same period, life expectancy at birth hit an all-time high: 78 years.


Death rates for 8 out of the 10 leading causes of death declined significantly in 2006-most notably, a sharp drop of 12.8% in deaths from influenza and pneumonia.


The data are based on 95% of death certificates collected in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


Source: Heron MP, et al., Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2006, National Vital Statistics Reports, June 11, 2008.