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SIDS down in SD in 2012, infant mortality still up

PIERRE (AP) — The number of deaths in South Dakota attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was at its lowest level ever in 2012, but the state's infant mortality rate still rose, according to a state report released Friday.

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The state Health Department reported that the six infants who died from SIDS in 2012 marked the "lowest ever number" of such deaths in South Dakota, where the 13-year median for SIDS deaths is nine. SIDS is defined as the sudden and unexplained death of an infant who is less than a year old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

However, there were 104 infant deaths total, topping the previous high of 100 deaths set in 2008. The median for overall infant deaths is 80 in South Dakota, according to the report.

"The numbers do fluctuate from year to year because of our small population, but any increase is cause for concern," said Health Secretary Doneen Hollingsworth. "We need to do more to get women in for early prenatal care and to continue the declining numbers of pregnant women who smoke."

First lady Linda Daugaard, who led the 2011 Governor's Task Force on Infant Mortality, said the group's recommendations were just beginning to be implemented in 2012.

"We need to recognize that the things we're working on today will have a long term impact and changes won't happen overnight," she said. "Every woman who stops smoking during pregnancy, every pregnant woman who gets early prenatal care and every parent who puts their baby to sleep on their back helps to reduce the risk of infant death.

"Helping more babies reach their first birthday is such an important issue and we need to be committed to it for the long haul," Daugaard said. "We will see success but we also need to be prepared for setbacks. There is certainly more we can do to promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies."