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U.S. health: the good and the bad.

U.S. health: The good and the bad

In the United States, blacks have a shorter lifespan than whites, according to the most recent health statistics compiled by the U.S. Public Health Service. Blacks increasingly are dying of AIDS, pneumonia and homicide, says Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan.

In a report released last week, the agency says the average black child born in 1986 will live an estimated 69.4 years, down from 69.5 years in 1985. In contrast, the average white American's lifespan keeps getting longer. The average white child born in 1986 will live about 75.4 years, up from 75.3 years in 1985, the report notes.

Infant mortality rates, one key indicator of the nation's health, continue at a disturbing level. "The mortality rate for black infants remains twice as high as that for whites," Sullivan says. Black infants die at a rate of 18 per 1,000 live births, compared with the white infant death rate of 8.9 per 1,000 live births. Overall, the nation's infant mortality rate declined by 2 percent from 1985 to 1986, reaching 10.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the report.

Other highlights include statistics showing a 31 percent drop in the overall death rate due to heart disease between 1970 and 1986. The heart disease mortality rate for white males dropped 32 percent during this period, to 235 deaths per 100,000. For black males the rate declined 22 percent, to 294 deaths per 100,000.

However, death due to lung cancer increased in 1986 to 39 deaths per 100,000, up from the 1985 figure of 38.8 deaths per 100,000. For males, the lung cancer rate has risen steadily from 1970 to 1986. Lung cancer death rates among females nearly doubled during that same period, due tothe increasing number of female smokers, the report says.
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Title Annotation:U.S. Public Health Service statistics
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 25, 1989
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