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Babies will hit century - claim

Friday October 2nd, 2009

Photo of a baby in a tubBy Jane Collingwood
More than half of babies born in rich nations today may live to be 100, according to an analysis today.

Professor Kaare Christensen of the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues, write in the Lancet that about 30 years has been gained in life expectancy in developed countries over the 20th century.

"If the pace of increase in life expectancy in developed countries over the past two centuries continues through the 21st century, most babies born since 2000 in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan, and other countries with long life expectancies will celebrate their 100th birthdays," they write.

The researchers carried out a review based on earlier studies on population ageing and health trends around the world, as well as new evidence available since 2004.

Trends differed between developed countries, they found, but "populations of nearly all such countries are ageing as a result of low fertility, low immigration, and long lives."

They believe that the rise in the record life expectancy does not suggest a "looming limit to human lifespan". If life expectancy were approaching a limit, some deceleration of progress would probably occur, but continued increases suggest that we are not close to a limit, they state.

The key to quality of life in old age is functional ability and how it affects the activities of daily living, they write, so they looked at whether greater life expectancy will bring more chronic disease.

"The answer is still open," they state, "but research suggests that ageing processes are modifiable and that people are living longer without severe disability." Nevertheless, "increasing numbers of people at old and very old ages will pose major challenges for health-care systems."

Christensen, K. et al. Ageing populations: the challenges ahead. The Lancet, Vol. 374, October 3, 2009, pp. 1196-208.

Tags: North America | Asia | Child Health | Europe | General Health | Geriatric Health | UK News | World Health

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