PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Baby deaths are raising concerns for South Dakota officials as a new report shows infant mortality rates rose last year.
A Department of Health report released Wednesday shows the state averaged 7.8 deaths per 1,000 live births last year. That compares to 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016.
First lady Linda Daugaard, who chaired the 2011 governor’s infant mortality task force, says the state needs to continue encouraging safe sleep guidelines and help pregnant women stop smoking.
State figures show babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are twice as likely to die before their first birthday. In 2017, 12.6 percent of pregnant women in South Dakota smoked while pregnant.
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American Indian infant mortality rates fell to a record low last year but remained above the statewide average.