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According to the report titled "Mortality in the United States, 2017", the life expectancy for a baby born in 2017 fell to 78.6. Broken down by gender, life expectancy remained the same for women at 81.1 years and ticked downward for men from 76.2 years to 76.1 years, the CDC reports.

The top 10 leading causes of death - including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and suicide - were the same as in 2016, accounting for the majority of deaths.

There were a total of 2.8 million US deaths in 2017, nearly 70,000 more than the previous year, the CDC reported. Death rates rose in particular for adults ages 25 to 44.

Drug overdoses increased to 70,237 in 2017, compared to 63,632 the year before, the government stated in an accompanying report. The plurality died from deaths involving fentanyl or its analogs, deadly synthetic opioids which have gone from non-existent to nationwide in barely five years.

Additionally, last year's suicide death rate (47,000) reached an all-time high in at least 50 years. However, the rates for all except three of these went up in 2017 (cancer death rate decreased by 2.1 percent and both heart and kidney disease rates remained the same).

Overdoses were a major factor when U.S. life expectancy dropped slightly in 2015 for the first time in decades.

For the second time in three years, life expectancy in the USA has ticked downward.

"It's significant", Dr. Anderson told the paper.

"We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier", Redfield said in his statement, of the decline in life expectancy.

Life expectancy in the United States began dropping in 2015. That rate rose from 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 9 deaths per 100,000 people.

But in general, says William Dietz of George Washington University, the main themes of the reports are "very disturbing" - partly because deaths from overdoses and suicides are likely linked. Deaths of despair, including alcoholism, are a leading cause of deaths in younger ages groups.

A rise in increase in suicides and drug overdoses was the main factor behind the decline in life expectancy. She notes that many people may have suicidal thoughts prior to an overdose, or that others may take their lives to escape addiction.

Most alarming is that suicide rate in the most rural counties in the U.S.is now 1.8 times the rate in the most urban counties: with the rate in most rural counties at 20.0 per 100,000, and in the most urban at 11.1 per 100,000.

The CDC report is a sobering reality check for those working to reduce deaths by suicide.

Though deaths from overdoses of all types of opioids have increased since 1999, the change in mortality induced by synthetic opioids other than methadone, meaning products like fentanyl, has had the most alarming upswing.

Public health experts are alarmed by the new statistics released by the CDC. But the CDC noted a big jump in that segment of the population: The death rate was 4.2 in 1999 and has risen to 28.

"It is encouraging to see the trajectory of this start to decrease, without a doubt", said Harshal Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in NY, who was not involved in the data collection. There have been only a few noteworthy exceptions to this trend-the 1962/1963 drop, driven by the influenza epidemic, or the most recent decline in 1993 at the peak of the AIDS crisis.

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