A new CDC report out this week catalogues the notable public health achievements of the 2000s, heralding major improvements in preventable and infectious disease reduction, tobacco control, maternal and infant health and motor vehicle safety, among others. Those improvements ultimately contributed to a reduction in the national age adjusted death rate from 881.9-741 per 100,000 people from 1999-2009.  Mortality rates associated with heart disease dropped from 195 to 126 cases per 100,000 U.S. residents, the mortality rate linked to motor vehicle travel declined from 14.9 cases per 100,000 people to 11.0 and stroke-related deaths dipped from 61.6 to 42.2 cases pre 100,000 residents.

Some of the improvements listed were legal in nature, and not related to behaviors or health outcomes: for instance, while the percent of Americans who smoked declined only 0.3 percent from 2004-09 to 20.6 percent overall, 25 states along with the District Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws on the books in 2010. None of those laws existed in 2000, according to the report.

Among the report's other findings:

  • The prevention of 211,000 pneumococcal infections and 13,000 related deaths from 2000-2008, attributed to the introduction of new vaccines.
  • A 30 percent drop in tuberculosis cases and a 58 percent drop in central line-associated blood stream infections.
  •  A 35 percent drop in the number of lower back injuries in residential and nursing care employees from 2003-09, which the report attributed partially to the widespread implementation of best practices for to patient lifting, including the adoption of mechanized lifting devices, in those facilities.
  • A 36 percent reduction in the number of newborns with neural tube defects from 1996-2006, which the report attributed partially to the mandatory folic acid fortification of cereal products.

Read the full report here.