Statistics out today show North Carolina's child death rate fell to its lowest recorded level last year as the number of homicides dropped and infant health got better.
The death rate of 73.2 per 100,000 children in North Carolina is just slightly below the previous lowest rate reached in 2003. Despite a trend upward earlier this decade, the rate continues a general decline, falling by nearly one-third over the past 15 years.
Last year's rate was 76.9 deaths per 100,000 children ages 17 and under. Overall, 1,573 child deaths were reported in 2006, a 2.5 percent decline from 2005.
The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force says gun storage and motor vehicle safety laws passed in recent years have contributed to the reduction. Also helping is more emphasis on prenatal and infant care.