Objectives: This report presents final 1998 data on U.S. deaths and death rates according to demographic and medical characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, educational attainment, injury at work, State of residence, and cause of death. Trends and patterns in general mortality, life expectancy, and infant and maternal mortality are also described. A previous report presented preliminary mortality data for 1998.
Methods: In 1998 a total of 2,337,256 deaths were reported in the United States. This report presents descriptive tabulations of information reported on the death certificates. Death certificates are completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners. Original records are filed in the State registration offices. Statistical information is compiled into a national data base through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Results: The 1998 age-adjusted death rate for the United States decreased to an all-time low of 471.7 deaths per 100,000 standard population, and life expectancy at birth increased to a record high of 76.7 years. Of the 15 leading causes of death in 1998, the largest decline from the previous year--9.5 percent--in age-adjusted death rates was for Atherosclerosis (atherosclerosis). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection dropped from among the 15 leading causes for the first time since 1987. The age-adjusted death rate for firearm injuries decreased for the fifth consecutive year, declining 7.4 percent between 1997 and 1998. Among all causes of death, age-specific death rates rose for those under 1 year but declined for all other age groups, although the decline for children aged 1-4 years was not significant. The infant mortality rate was unchanged from 1997 at 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Conclusions: The overall improvements in general mortality and life expectancy in 1998 continue the long-term downward trend in U.S. mortality. Although unchanged from 1997, the trend in U.S. infant mortality is of steady declines over the past four decades.