Arrests in Baltimore for illegal guns often lead to dropped charges or little jail time

Maryland's infant mortality declining

That state is expected today to announce the good news that the infant mortality rate has dropped to its lowest level on record.

My colleague Meredith Cohn reports:

Data from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show a drop to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010. That's a 7 percent drop from the year before, a 16 percent drop from two years before and the lowest rate since recording began in the 1940s.

"It's definitely going in the right direction," said Frances B. Phillips, deputy secretary of the state health department. "We've got two years in a row of declines for the first time in a while."

Phillips warned that the numbers bounce up and down from year to year, and the state is not declaring "mission accomplished," especially considering the state's poor standing nationally. Maryland is a relatively wealthy state, but its pockets of poverty and racial disparities mean Baltimore City and some counties have kept the rate relatively high, Phillips said.

While the state has significantly improved its rate, Maryland is at the bottom tier nationally. The U.S. average was 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to national data for 2009, the latest year available.

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