Special Report

The Most Unusual Causes of Death By State

11. Georgia
> Cause of death: Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified
> No. deaths 2001-2010: 18,434
> Age-adjusted mortality rate: 25.66 per 100,000
> Mortality rate compared to national: 2.3

This classification is a catch-all, and likely a sign of poor reporting either by physicians on death certificates or by the state in filling out forms. This “cause” of death can include anything from cough, to an abnormal heart rate, to “abnormal findings on diagnostic imaging,” to the final catch-all “ill-defined and unknown cause of mortality.” In Georgia, this code is the age-adjusted cause of mortality in 25.7 deaths per 100,000, or 2.3 times the national average. Five other states (Alabama, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah), and the District of Columbia also have rates more than twice the national average in this category.

12. Hawaii
> Cause of death: Other nutritional deficiencies
> No. deaths 2001-2010: 26
> Age-adjusted mortality rate: 0.18 per 100,000
> Mortality rate compared to national: 3.0

“Other nutritional deficiencies” is a categorical code used for deaths due to poor intake or absorption of vitamins, minerals, or calories. In Hawaii, the age-adjusted mortality rate attributed to this cause is only 0.18 per 100,000, but this is three times the national average. Interestingly, Hawaiians have relatively good access to healthy food, ranking 22nd overall with only 5.8% of residents having limited access, according to data from the USDA.

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13. Idaho
> Cause of death: Water, air and space, and other and unspecified transport
> No. deaths 2001-2010: 207
> Age-adjusted mortality rate: 1.42
> Mortality rate compared to national: 2.3

Idaho is an average state in terms of mortality data, with only this category being more than twice (2.3) the national average. Montana and Alaska are the only two other states with similarly high rates. At 207 reported deaths between 2001 and 2010, this accounted for an age-adjusted mortality rate of 1.42 per 100,000, which is still much lower than the state’s mortality rate for motor vehicle accidents (18.46).

14. Illinois
> Cause of death: Other disorders of kidney
> No. deaths 2001-2010: 12
> Age-adjusted mortality rate: N/A
> Mortality rate compared to national: N/A

“Other disorders of kidney” is a categorical grouping for several less common kidney disorders. The 12 deaths accounts for an incredibly low percentage of total deaths reported in Illinois from 2001 to 2010 (0.0005%). Illinois is an average state in terms of overall causes of death, with no other categories more than 1.4 times the national average.

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15. Indiana
> Cause of death: Other and unspecified events of undetermined intent
> No. deaths 2001-2010: 1,717
> Age-adjusted mortality rate: 2.77 per 100,000
> Mortality rate compared to national: 1.8

This category refers to deaths due to some injury where there is specific documentation that the intent of the injury cannot be determined. These include fires, explosions, falls, etc. In Indiana, this category has an age-adjusted mortality rate that is 1.8 times higher than the national average, accounting for 2.77 deaths per 100,000.