The Baltimore Sun

State still struggles with infant mortality

Frank D. Roylance's article "CDC reports a sudden uptick in births, along with some troubling medical details" (Jan. 18) does point out "some worrisome changes in recent childbirth patterns across the nation." However, the idea that "Maryland women generally scored as well as or better than the national average" may give Maryland health care providers and state legislators an ill-founded sense of complacency.

In 2007, 112 babies in Baltimore died before their first birthday. And, as Mr. Roylance's article suggests, there are still sharp contrasts in birth outcomes for whites and minorities; infant mortality in Baltimore still disproportionately affects African-Americans.

Nearly as tragic is the number of babies born pre-term, those with low birth weights and those who live with chronic health problems throughout their lives.

And in Baltimore, African-American babies are twice as likely to have low birth weights as other infants.

Many factors can contribute to poor birth outcomes. However, one thing is certain: Healthier women have a better chance of having healthier babies.

And since 50 percent of pregnancies are still unplanned, it's important for women to have reliable health care throughout their child-bearing years.

That is why Planned Parenthood of Maryland is joining with the statewide Babies Born Healthy initiative to emphasize the importance of health care before a pregnancy occurs.

We believe that the Babies Born Healthy initiative can significantly impact future generations and hope that the General Assembly will support sustained funding for this crucial program.

John W. Nugent, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

Contraceptives for deer expensive, unproven

While deer contraceptives may have been successfully tested in a few small trials, it might be wise to wait for FDA approval of them before we consider them "proven" ("Guns a dated way to control the deer," letters, Jan. 14).

Furthermore, deer contraceptives can cost up to $1,000 per deer, and their effectiveness only lasts two years, while deer can live for decades.

Given the current state of the economy, would it really be prudent for the state to spend millions trying to control the deer population with contraceptives?

Or should we continue to let hunters pay the state for licenses to hunt?

Peter Bagnell, Randallstown

Send legal bill to office of the state prosecutor

I don't feel that the taxpayers should have to pay for Mayor Sheila Dixon's defense if she is found innocent ("Bill the taxpayers?" Jan. 22).

However, I do feel that the office of the State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh should be made to pay if it can't prove her guilt.

Fair is fair.

David Gosey, Baltimore

Booing Bush hardly a moment of triumph

According to Garrison Keillor, there were three great moments in the inauguration: when Barack Obama appeared, when he took the oath of office and when "a million jubilant people" cheered and hollered as the Bushes departed ("Among the happy people on a day to remember," Commentary, Jan. 22).

Mr. Keillor states that the last of these "was the most genuine moment" of the entire day.

I could not disagree more. How telling and tragic that this glorious and historically significant event was marred by such disrespect. So much for this being a new era.

Julia Desmarais, Towson

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