They are numbers that come out every year on a topic no one likes to think about: child mortality. Tuesday, we got a closer look at the numbers of child deaths in eastern South Dakota, what's behind the numbers and how to keep rates low.
The Infant and Child Mortality Review Committee said one preventable death is too many.
71 children died in a 10-county area. Those counties are: Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, McCook, Lake, Moody, Union, Hanson, Miner and Brookings counties.
22 of those 71 died after they were released from the hospital at birth with deaths that could have been prevented. Half of those were infants who died from choking or improper sleeping.
Others involved car accidents, drowning without a life jacket, suicide by a firearm and a fire with no smoke detectors, or working smoke detectors.
"One of these preventable deaths is really tragic. When we get 10 of them, it's something we really need to look at," Fire Chief, and co-chair Jim Sideras said.
One of the things the mortality review committee looks at is death among infants. Sideras said sudden, unexpected death happens far too often to overlook.
"Everyone involved in the life of a child needs to know what we can do to protect those children and with changing and understanding of sudden infant death, we realize those in the past were linked to risk factors that could have been prevented," Ann Wilson said.
Wilson teaches early childhood education at SDSU and says all parents or guardians should know the safety tips that include proper sleeping, for example, to keep kids from suffocating.
"All infants should be placed on their back to sleep. Placing them on the side or stomach is not recommended . That's a standard of care," Sideras said.
"Those tragedies can be transformed into strategies that can prevent future tragedies or loss of life," Wilson said.
Mortality Review Committees are not common in every city. However, for our population, Sideras said preventable deaths reaching into the 20s and 30s are normal but it can always be improved.
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