According to the South Dakota Department of Health the state reported its lowest rate ever of infant deaths in 2016. Compared to previous years, more babies are surviving until their first birthdays.

The increase is likely thanks to better prenatal care and awareness.

  • There were 12,270 births in 2016 and 59 infant deaths.
  • That's an infant mortality rate in 2016 of 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • That’s down from 7.3 in 2015 and below the previous low of 5.5 in 2000.

“It’s wonderful news that more babies are celebrating their first birthdays,” First Lady Linda Daugaard, who chaired the 2011 Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality, said in a statement. “If we continue to promote safe sleep guidelines for infants, help pregnant women stop smoking and get early prenatal care, we can support that encouraging trend.”

South Dakota data shows babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday if their mothers smoke during pregnancy. New data shows that 13.6 percent of pregnant women smoked during pregnancy, down from 14 percent in 2015. The data also showed 72.7 percent of pregnant women in South Dakota got prenatal care in the first trimester.

“The decrease in the number of infant deaths is encouraging and certainly reflects the hard work of many health care providers across the state,” said Colleen Winter, director of family and community health for the Department of Health. “We need to continue those efforts, particularly among our American Indian population where the infant mortality rate is still disproportionately high.”

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