Correction to This Article
An item about a study exploring differences in life expectancy between white and black Americans was mistakenly published in the March 16 Findings column. It was based on information provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association under an agreement that the material not be published until today, (March 20) when the study is officially released.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Life Expectancy Closer For U.S. Blacks, Whites

Researchers at McGill University have found that the gap in life expectancy between white and black people in America has narrowed substantially, largely because of a decrease in deaths of young African American males from homicide and AIDS.

The McGill study, Trends in the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap in the United States, 1983-2003, found that the gap declined from 7.1 years in 1993 to 5.3 years in 2003, a historic low. The life expectancy of black Americans in that year was 72.7 years, compared with 78 years for whites.

The study conducted by Sam Harper, a postdoctoral fellow in McGill's department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health, and John Lynch, Canada research chair in population health, is published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They calculated trends in black and white mortality rates among specific age groups, as well as causes of death. The data show that mortality decrease among black males 15-49 from homicide, HIV/AIDS and accidents, as well as a decrease in mortality among black females from heart disease, were reasons for the gap's decline.

100 Genes May Be Linked to Autism

Little glitches in the DNA of people with autism suggest that the disease might be caused by as many as 100 different genes, researchers reported yesterday.

The small changes are not what people usually think of as genetic mutations but are called copy number variations -- extra copies or missing stretches of DNA. For instance, one child with Asperger syndrome was missing DNA from a stretch of 27 genes. The findings, reported in today's issue of the journal Science, suggests that autism spectrum disorder may involve 100 or more genes. The disorder affects one in 150 children.

Researchers in the United States, Finland and Britain scanned the genomes, looking at the DNA of people in 264 families. They found numerous spontaneous mutations in 14 of 195 people with autism spectrum disorders compared with two of 196 unaffected people.

Gonorrhea Rate Rises In Western States

The rate of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea rose 42 percent in five years in eight Western states, while other regions reported declines, a new report says.

The states -- Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington -- had historically seen lower rates than other regions, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a weekly report released yesterday.

The rate in the South declined by 22 percent, the Northeast rate fell 16 percent, and the Midwest rate dropped 5 percent during the period surveyed.

Better testing methods and actual increases in the number of people getting the disease may have contributed to the statistical rise.

-- From News Services

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