PIERRE, S.D. (KELO AM) – South Dakota reported its lowest ever number of SIDS deaths in 2012 but the infant mortality rate still rose, perinatal health professionals learned today at a conference in Sioux Falls. The South Dakota Perinatal Conference is an annual event bringing together providers from across the state with the goal of improving pregnancy, birth and newborn care.
There were six SIDS deaths in 2012, well below the 13-year median of 9 deaths, and the number of women who smoked during pregnancy also dropped to 16.5 percent. However, there were 104 infant deaths, up from the median of 80 deaths, resulting in an infant mortality rate of 8.6 per 1,000 live births. During that same 13-year period the previous high was 100 infant deaths in 2008.
“The numbers do fluctuate from year to year because of our small population but any increase is cause for concern,” said Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of the Department of Health. “We need to do more to get women in for early prenatal care and to continue the declining numbers of pregnant women who smoke.”
Hollingsworth said the data shows babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday if their mothers don’t get prenatal care in the first trimester and smoke during pregnancy.
First Lady Linda Daugaard chaired the 2011 Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality and noted that the group’s recommendations were just beginning to be implemented in 2012.
“We need to recognize that the things we’re working on today will have a long term impact and changes won’t happen overnight,” said Mrs. Daugaard. “Every woman who stops smoking during pregnancy, every pregnant woman who gets early prenatal care and every parent who puts their baby to sleep on their back helps to reduce the risk of infant death.”
The First Lady said the 2012 data reinforces the importance of creating the task force to address infant mortality and the need to put its recommendations into place.
“Helping more babies reach their first birthday is such an important issue and we need to be committed to it for the long haul,” said Mrs. Daugaard. “We will see success but we also need to be prepared for setbacks. There is certainly more we can do to promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.”
Reducing the infant mortality rate is a key objective of the department’s Health 2020 initiative.