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Mystery of U.S. mortality patterns

December 24, 2007|From Times Wire Reports

People living along the southern Atlantic coast of the U.S., as well as those residing along the Mississippi River, die at a faster rate than the national average, while death rates are below the norm in the upper Great Plains, a new study shows.

These patterns of mortality have been consistent for 35 years, Dr. Jeralynn Sittig Cossman and colleagues from Mississippi State University found.

"Place matters, and it matters for a long period of time," Cossman said.

"We're trying to disentangle poverty rates, access to care, and really get to what's going to explain these pockets."

Most of this variation can't be explained by race or income, she added, so as-yet unknown environmental or population factors must be at work.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, came from analyzing county-by-county mortality data for seven five-year periods, from 1968 to 2002.

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