Poisoning Death Rate Rising as Other Leading Causes Fall

The age-adjusted rate for poisonings more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, CDC reports.

Reporting age-adjusted death rates for the three leading causes of U.S. injury-related deaths from 1979 to 2007, CDC reports in the Aug. 6 issue of MMWR that the rate for poisoning deaths more than doubled as the motor vehicle traffic death declined.

Poisoning deaths include fatalities resulting from drug overdoses or other misuse of drugs, gases or vapors, pesticides, or unspecified chemicals.

The report contains an important caveat: Because a change was made in 1999, with the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision replacing the previous revision, about 5 percent fewer deaths were classified as motor vehicle traffic-related and 2 percent more deaths were classified as poisoning-related. As a result, death rates for 1998 and earlier aren't directly comparable with those after 1998, the report notes.

Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause. There was little change in this classification because of the 1998 change. From 2006 to 2007, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate increased 6 percent, the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 4 percent, and the firearm death rate did not change. The source of these data is the National Vital Statistics System's mortality data.

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