As South Dakota health professionals strive for healthier babies, a recent study shows an improvement in survival rates of newborns in the last ten years, according to a new report.

Carole Cochran, with South Dakota KIDS Count says 73 percent of expectant mothers are now starting prenatal care in their first trimester, which is up from 69 percent five years ago.

"Prenatal care, which is probably one of the most important factors during a pregnancy, I wonder really what's going on there," says Cochran. "And that really impacts the other types of indicators, such as infant mortally and low birth weight."

South Dakota continues to have a higher infant mortality rate Nebraska and Iowa. A task force established by the South Dakota state legislature studied and suggested changed to increase the rate of survival among newborns. In 1993, there were 9.5 infant deaths for every 1,000 births. Today it has improved to 7.3 infant deaths for every 1,000 babies born. Medical professionals would like to see that number improve even further. According to the task force, the goal is to see the infant mortality rate down to 6 per 1,000 births by the year 2020.

Low birth weight is also a concern according to Cochrane. "In terms of students smoking cigarettes, young people, there was a 71 percent decrease from 1993 to 2015," she says. "So, there's been a decrease over time. I think that certainly is a good sign."

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