Racial Differences in Life Expectancy

July 22, 2013

The trend in U.S. life expectancy since 1900 has been gradually improving.  In 2010, life expectancy at birth was 78.7 years, an increase of 11% since 1970. For the white population, life expectancy increased 10%, and for the black population the increase was 17%. Nevertheless, differences in life expectancy by race have been observed and have persisted at least since official estimates have been recorded.

A new report from NCHS looks at these disparities by looking at the leading causes of death and how these causes influence life expectancy at birth. In this report, differences in the leading causes of death among black and white populations are examined to determine which causes contributed to the difference in life expectancy between the black and white populations in 2010.

Key Findings from the Report: 

  • In 2010, life expectancy for the black population was 3.8 years lower than that of the white population. This difference was due to higher death rates for the black population for heart disease, cancer, homicide, diabetes, and perinatal conditions.
  • Life expectancy for black males was 4.7 years lower than that of white males. This difference was due to higher death rates for black males for heart disease, homicide, cancer, stroke, and perinatal conditions.
  • Life expectancy for black females was 3.3 years lower than that of white females. This difference was due to higher death rates for black females for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, perinatal conditions, and stroke.
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Cesarean Delivery Rates Starting to Stabilize

July 8, 2013

Cesarean delivery, by gestational age: United States, final 1996–2010 and preliminary 2011

The total U.S. cesarean delivery rate reached a high of 32.9% of all births in 2009, rising 60% from the most recent low of 20.7 in 1996.  Since 2009, the U.S. cesarean delivery rate has not increased. NCHS’s report explores cesarean delivery rates by gestational age for 1996–2011, focusing on 2009–2011.  Analysis is limited to singleton births; multiple births are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be delivered by cesarean.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Cesarean delivery rates decreased more than 5% among births at 38 weeks of gestation, but increased 4% among births at 39 weeks.
  • Decreases in cesarean delivery rates for births at 38 weeks occurred for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic women, as well as for all maternal age groups.
  • Increases in cesarean delivery rates for births at 39 weeks occurred among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic women, as well as for all maternal age groups.
  • The cesarean delivery rate at 38 weeks decreased in 30 states; the cesarean delivery rate at 39 weeks increased in 23 states.

Birth Numbers Continue to Decline

July 8, 2013

NCHS has released a report that presents 2011 data on U.S. births according to a wide variety of characteristics.  The vast majority of these findings were previously published in October 2012 in “Births: Preliminary Data for 2011.”

Findings that were not in the preliminary report:

The 2011 twin birth rate was 33 per 1,000 total births, essentially unchanged from 2009 and 2010. The rate of twin births rose 76 percent from 1980 to 2009-2011. The triplet and higher order multiple birth rate was also essentially unchanged from 2010, but has declined 29 percent since 1998.

The mean age of mother at first birth rose slightly to 25.6 years in 2011, up from
21 years in 1970.This image depicts a mother in the process of securing her infant child into a back seat-located child safety seat.   The increase in the mean age in 2011 reflects, in part, the relatively large decline in births to women in their teens and twenties.

Mean age at first birth varied by race and Hispanic origin in 2011, from 22 years for American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) women to 29 years for Asian or Pacific Islander (API) women. For the three largest race and Hispanic origin groups, average ages at first birth were 23 years for non-Hispanic black, 24 years for Hispanic, and 26 years for non-Hispanic white women. Among the specified Hispanic groups, average ages ranged from 23 years for Mexican women to 26 years for Cuban women. Average age at first birth increased for women in the three largest race and Hispanic origin groups in 2011, but decreased for AIAN and API women.