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First Lady, Infant Mortality Task Force Review Progress


            Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

(605) 773-3212



 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013

CONTACT:  Barb Buhler, Department of Health, 605-773-3361


                                                   First Lady, Infant Mortality Task Force Review Progress


PIERRE, S.D. – One year after concluding its study and presenting its recommendations, the Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality has issued a progress report that notes significant improvement efforts in areas from prenatal care to safe sleep practices.


“Reducing South Dakota’s infant mortality rate will require sustained effort,” said First Lady Linda Daugaard, who chaired the task force. “It’s not something we can expect to turn around quickly. That’s why I’m so pleased to see the continued commitment of the task force members. I can’t thank them enough for their dedication to this important work.”


Promoting safe sleep practices was a key recommendation of the task force. The First Lady noted that the state has distributed more than 550 safe sleep kits to families in need of safe places for their babies to sleep. Another 600 kits went to licensed child care providers, foster care families and abuse shelters.



Each kit includes a crib, a sheet with a safe sleep message, a pacifier, a sleep sack, and an educational brochure about safe-sleep practices such as putting babies to sleep on their backs and removing soft objects and bedding from cribs.



Mrs. Daugaard said the safe sleep initiative is a true public-private partnership with many hospitals in the state purchasing and providing the kits, often with fund-raising support from their local communities.


South Dakota recently won the small-state category in the 2012 Text4baby State Enrollment Contest. Pregnant women who enroll in Text4baby receive text messages about prenatal care, baby health, parenting and other information during their pregnancies and the first year of their babies’ lives. South Dakota enrolled more than 1,900 women during the contest at locations ranging from state Health Department nursing and WIC program offices to private clinics and domestic violence shelters.


The First Lady said work is also continuing on other strategies recommended by the task force, including infant death reviews and expanded home-visiting programs.


About 80 South Dakota infants die each year before their first birthdays. The state’s infant death rate is higher than the national rate as well as that of neighboring North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana.


The Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality progress report can be found on this South Dakota Department of Health website: doh.sd.gov/InfantMortality/documents/12-monthupdate.pdf