It’s one of the most disturbing trends in American public health: women’s life spans are shrinking in many parts of the U.S., and no one knows why. Women’s longevity took an unprecedented nosedive during the past decade, researchers recently discovered, with their life expectancy tumbling or stagnating in one of every five counties in the country. In Connecticut, where women’s life expectancy exceeds the national average, New London County saw a drop in longevity, while Fairfield and Hartford counties saw significant jumps. The last time life expectancy fell for a large number of American women was in 1918, due to Spanish influenza. While many scientists believe that smoking and obesity are driving the downward spiral, a growing chorus of experts contends that chronic stress may be a key culprit, too – especially the stress of juggling work and family.