Life expectancy in the United States fell for the second year in a row in 2016 — and it’s clear the epidemic of drug overdoses is at least in part to blame, government researchers said Thursday. Overall life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell to 78.6 years, a small decline of 0.1 percent, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) team found. At the same time, mortality from drug overdoses rose by 21 percent.

“This was the first time life expectancy in the U.S. has declined two years in a row since declines in 1962 and 1963,” the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.  “The new report shows the decline in life expectancy occurred despite an overall decline in U.S. mortality,” the statement added. Life expectancy is affected by mortality rates, but life expectancy calculations are forward-looking projections, while mortality rates are based on current factors. READ MORE