Mama Mia: U.S. Ranks 28th in Best Place to be a Mother

Filed under: In The News

Maternity leave policies and maternal mortality rates need to improve in the United States. Credit: Getty Images

It's almost Mother's Day, but it turns out moms in the United States may not have a lot to celebrate -- at least when it comes to Save the Children's annual "Mothers' Index."

According to the organization's 11th annual report, which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother, Norway and Australia are the top spots, while the United States places at just number 28 -- down from 27 in 2009. The reason? America's maternal mortality rate -- one in 4,800 -- is one of the highest in the developed world, according to Save the Children. Also factoring in: The U.S. ranks behind many other wealthy nations in terms of maternity leave policies.

"While the situation in the United States needs to improve, mothers in the developing world are facing far greater risks to their own health and that of their children," says Mary Beth Powers, Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival Campaign Chief, in a statement. "The shortage of skilled birth attendants and challenges in accessing birth control means that women in countries at the bottom of the list face the most pregnancies and the most risky birth situations, resulting in newborn and maternal deaths."

Ranking at the bottom of the list of 160 countries is Afghanistan. The report is based on an analysis of indicators of women's and children's health and well-being.

The Top 10 Places to be a Mother:

  1. 1. Norway
  2. 2. Australia
  3. 3. Iceland
  4. 4. Sweden
  5. 5. Denmark
  6. 6. New Zealand
  7. 7. Finland
  8. 8. The Netherlands
  9. 9. Belgium
  10. 10. Germany
The 10 Worst Places to be a Mother:

  1. 1. Afghanistan
  2. 2. Niger
  3. 3. Chad
  4. 4. Guinea-Bissau
  5. 5. Yemen
  6. 6. Democratic Republic of Congo
  7. 7. Mali
  8. 8. Sudan
  9. 9. Eritrea
  10. 10. Equatorial Guinea

Comparisons by Country:

  • Fewer than 15 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Afghanistan and Chad. In Ethiopia, just 6 percent of births are attended. Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway.
  • The risk for a woman to die of pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in Niger is 1 in 7. The risk is 1 in 8 in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Italy, the risk of maternal death is less than 1 in 25,000 and in Ireland it is less than 1 in 47,600.
  • One in five children dies before age 5 in Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. In Afghanistan, child mortality rates are higher than 1 in 4. In Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg and Sweden, only 1 child in 333 dies before age 5.
  • A typical female in Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and Guinea-Bissau receives less than five years of formal education. In Niger, women receive less than four years. In Australia and New Zealand, the average woman stays in school for more than 20 years.
  • In Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen, women earn 25 cents or less for every dollar men earn. Saudi Arabian and Palestinian women earn only 16 and 12 cents respectively to the male dollar. In Mongolia, women earn 87 cents for every dollar men earn and in Mozambique they earn 90 cents.
Related: Sharp Drop in Maternal Deaths Worldwide

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