The Governor's Task Force on Infant Mortality presented its final report today to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, recommending such things as improved access to early prenatal care and increased awareness of safe sleep practices for infants.
The Governor appointed the 27-member task force in May to study the state's infant mortality rate and recommend ways to reduce it.
An average of 80 South Dakota infants die each year before their first birthdays. For 2000-2010, the state's infant mortality rate was 7.0 per 1,000 births, which was higher than the national rate and higher than rates of neighboring North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Montana.
First Lady Linda Daugaard chaired the task force of representatives from hospitals, neonatal units, rural clinics, behavioral health, social work, the Sanford USD School of Medicine, Indian Health Service, Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, state agencies, and medical facilities ranging from family practice and obstetrics to neonatology and perinatology.
"I appreciate the time and effort the task force has spent thoroughly reviewing infant mortality in South Dakota, and I will carefully review the report and its recommendations," Gov. Daugaard said. "I'm confident that the task force identified concrete steps we can take to improve survival rates of South Dakota infants."
The report offers detailed strategies for reducing infant mortality under broad recommendations for early prenatal care, safe sleep practices, community-based support systems for mothers and families, statewide education campaigns, infant mortality prevention resources for health professionals, and improved data collection and analysis. The report also includes a call to action section outlining specific roles for groups, ranging from parents and families to hospitals and tribal health services.
Although the task force has completed its official work, members will continue to advocate implementation of the recommendations and strategies within their individual practices, health care systems, and communities in order to reduce infant mortality and improve infant health.
"It was truly an honor to chair this task force with some of the state's finest medical experts, tribal health representatives, hospitals, providers, and state agencies," the First Lady said. "I am confident that our recommendations will reduce infant mortality."
The South Dakota Governor's Task Force on Infant Mortality Final Report can be found on the Department of Health website at http://doh.sd.gov/InfantMortality/documents/final_report.pdf