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Babies born today could live a century

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to a predictive model, more than half of babies born today could live to be 100 in developing nations. The findings, published in the Lancet, also suggest in addition to living to see age 100, ageing in wealthier countries should be met with less limitations due to modifiable risk factors that can prevent severe disability.

The authors write, “in developed countries…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.”

Danish researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, led by James Vaupel, looked at studies related to ageing in 2004-2005. The scientists found an upward trend in lifespan that does not show signs of slowing down. It is conceivable that babies born today could easily live to 100 years of age due to advances in medical care.

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The only fly in the soup is the obesity epidemic. Though more than half of babies born today really could live to be 100, obesity could cause earlier deaths from cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that increase risk of dying younger.

According to Richard Suzman, an aging expert at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, it is likely that age at retirement will also be pushed back.

Most babies born in wealthy countries since 2000 could live to be 100. The Denmark researchers predict that old age will eventually be further divided into “a third and fourth” age. The authors write,"Very long lives are not the distant privilege of remote future generations -- very long lives are the probable destiny of most people alive now in developed countries.” Medical advances could also ensure aging with less disability than seen in the past when more than half of today’s babies reach the century mark.

Lancet: doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61345-8