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Healthy Moms Lead to Healthy Babies

January 27, 2012

MISSION, S.D. - The infant mortality rate in South Dakota is higher than that of all neighboring states, a new report finds - and higher yet for Native Americans.

An average of 79 babies die each year before their first birthday, a rate considerably higher than neighboring states, according to the report from the state Department of Health. The mortality rate for Native Americans is twice as high as that for whites, the report finds.

Angela Chambers, a physician's assistant at Horizon Health Care's Mission Medical Clinic, says patients face many challenges in getting early care for themselves and their babies.

"Taking advantage of prenatal and postnatal care is a challenge for many patients who don't have travel. They live on a fixed income, and so unfortunately we may not be able to see them for their visits, and catch some of those things that would be preventable. Every baby is different, every pregnancy is different, and our goal is to make sure that mom and baby are both healthy."

Chambers says they can make a big difference for women and their babies, if they see them early.

"We recommend patients be seen for that first check around that 10-week mark, taking a prenatal vitamin, making sure that you're getting some exercise, a healthy diet."

Chambers says she also helps babies by working with the parents.

"The goal of those parenting classes was to help patients determine what is an emergency, what can wait for a clinic visit, because that's not always second nature."

Chambers says many people don't realize how difficult it is for those in rural areas to get to adequate healthcare facilities.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD