Infant mortality is considered a gold standard for measuring the health of a population. While South Dakota saw dramatic improvements from the 1960s to the 1990s, over the next decade, the state’s infant mortality rate exhibited a worsening trend. From 2000-2010, South Dakota’s infant mortality rate was 7.0 per 1,000 births which was higher than the national rate and higher than those of neighboring North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Montana. A 2011 Taskforce of partners from across the state studied the issues and developed recommendations for strategies to assure more South Dakota babies reached their first birthday.

South Dakota Infant Death Review

The goal of the Infant Death Review (IDR) is to understand why infants die and to act to prevent other deaths. Understanding the circumstances of each death and acting to prevent these deaths is the work of the SD Infant Death Review.

There are currently two review teams in the state. The East River Team reviews infant deaths (post-hospitalization) that occur in the 44 counties east of the Missouri River. The West River Team reviews infant deaths (post-hospitalization) that occur in the 22 counties west of the Missouri River. The teams are multidisciplinary and are comprised of volunteers from law enforcement, Child Protection Services, hospital staff, fire departments, emergency medical services, public health, behavioral health, forensic pathology, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Services, the Great Plains Tribal Leader's Health Board, and the States Attorney’s office.

The two teams began using a common data collection tool (Child Death Review Case Reporting System) in 2012 so that data could be reviewed by a state-level advisory group for prevention efforts.  The state-wide committee meets annually to review data and make recommendations to help turn tragedies into lessons that can prevent other deaths.

The Department of Health has an Infant Death Review Coordinator who is a member of both review teams and abstracts data for entry into the National database. South Dakota had its first full year of data entered in 2013 and has since published a report, Infant Death Review South Dakota 2013-1015 as well as an infographic to better tell the story of infant deaths in the state.

Safe Sleep Infographic

Infant Mortality Dashboard