New report shows increase in SD’s infant mortalityThe South Dakota Department of Health’s Office of Health Statistics released its 2010 Vital Statistics report Wednesday, and it included some alarming stats that the state is already attempting to remedy.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
The South Dakota Department of Health’s Office of Health Statistics released its 2010 Vital Statistics report Wednesday, and it included some alarming stats that the state is already attempting to remedy.
The infant mortality rate increased from 6.71 deaths per 1,000 births in 2009 to 7.04 in 2010.
Last year, Gov. Dennis Daugaard assembled a task force to make recommendations on how to address the problem.
Doneen Hollingsworth, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, served on the task force and said the 2010 data is alarming and one of the reasons the task force was formed when preliminary data on the subject was presented to the governor.
The state’s infant mortality rate ranks the highest among its neighboring states, excluding Wyoming.
Hollingsworth said that while there was an increase in 2010, she expects the number will decrease in the coming years with the forming of the task force.
“We see a large percentage of infant deaths after one month of age,” she said. “Those are largely being caused by external factors, and that is something we can change if people are properly educated.”
Hollingsworth said new parents need to understand the importance of safe sleeping for infants. That includes having the infant sleep alone on his or her back and in a properly constructed crib.
Another recommendation of the task force is training for health care professionals, so they can relay safe infant practices to new parents more often.
“It’s not that the doctors and nurses don’t know this information; it’s just about trying to get them to talk with their patients about it right away when a person is pregnant so they are prepared,” she said.
Hollingsworth said the task force was one of the most engaged groups she has ever worked with, and she believes South Dakota can reach its goal of reducing infant mortality to 6.0 per 1,000 births by 2015.
The Vital Statistics report also highlighted a number of behavioral risk factors for adults, and South Dakota came up short on three target percentages for the factors in 2010.
The percentage of adults who are overweight or obese in South Dakota was 65.7 in 2010, above the target of 55 percent.
Also, adults who eat five fruits and vegetables a day was only 15.7 percent. The Department of Health had targeted 25 percent.
Finally, 45 percent of adults were physically active on a regular basis in South Dakota during 2010, which was short of the 50 percent target.
Hollingsworth said those numbers are disappointing. She hopes communities will take a more active role in working together to make South Dakota healthier.
“That is really an ongoing, multifaceted issued that we need everyone on board with to make a difference,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s employers, it’s communities, it’s everyone that needs to help raise awareness for these issues.”
The Department of Health did make its target for adult cigarette smokers.
In 2010, 15.4 percent of adults in South Dakota smoked, below the target of 18 percent.
One possible explanation, according to Hollingsworth, is the added tax on tobacco in recent years, which provides money to advertise the negative effects of smoking and fund a quitline.
“Just like I don’t think we should take all the blame for some things, we don’t deserve all the credit at the Department of Health of that being lowered,” she said. “I am happy to report that of all of our contiguous states, we have the lowest adult smoker rate.”
Other information in the report included:
• The statewide birthrate decreased slightly from 14.7 per 1,000 in population in 2009 to 14.5 in 2010.
• The rates of marriages and divorces both increased. The marriage rate saw a 1.4 percent increase, and the divorce rate increased by 3 percent.
• The most popular infant boy name in 2010 in South Dakota was Jacob, and Ava was the most popular girl name.