Following a rare increase in 2015, the mortality rate in the U.S. has declined in the first quarter of 2016. Preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics came as a relief to researchers, who were concerned about last year’s surprise bump. National mortality rates are now down to 772.3 deaths per 100,000 people, from 800.9 in early 2015. “This is good news,” said Andrew Fenelon, an assistant professor in health administration at the University of Maryland. “Maybe the 2015 increase was a quick blip, and the trend of decline will continue.” Developments in healthier lifestyles and medical care have guided a steady decline for at least two decades, but an increase in fatal drug overdoses was at least in part to blame for the 2015 rise. Drug overdoses, The New York Times reports, have been rising in frequency since the 1990s.
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