Report: The Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom—U.S. Drops to 31
byKaitlin StanfordMay 06, 2014
Photograph by Getty Images/moodboard RF
Save the Children has released its annual "State of the World's Mothers" report, and things are not looking great for the U.S. We fell to the 31st spot, which is particularly eye-opening, considering we once ranked in the top five, 15 years ago. As for top billing? That goes to Finland, which isn't a huge surprise, considering the fact that maternal deaths affect only one in 12,000 women there. At the bottom of the list lies Somalia, which has been troubled by internal conflicts as well as natural disasters over recent years. There, one in 16 women is likely to die of a maternal cause. And, shockingly, one in seven children does not live to see his or her fifth birthday. As for Finland? They lose one in 345 children by that age.
In total, the report ranks 178 countries from around the world and scores countries based on the "Mothers' Index," which ranks the health, education, economic and political status of its mothers and their children.
Save the Children has highlighted other grim realities about the state of the U.S. in its report, too, which notes that since the year 2000, the risk of a 15-year-old girl dying during her lifetime from a maternal cause has increased by 50 percent in the States. (It rose from one in 3,700 to one in 2,400.) But we're not alone. Other developed nations—among them, Spain, New Zealand and even Denmark—have also seen a rise in maternal death rates. So what's behind it all? At least in terms of the U.S., there are a variety of factors, but the biggies include a rise in high-risk pregnancies in mothers with obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and an increase in older mothers. Another is the use of fertility drugs, which often lead to complicated multiple births.
But U.S. mothers certainly have it better than those in non-developed countries, many of which are currently battling intense humanitarian crises. As the report notes, "Worldwide, more than half of all maternal and child deaths occur in areas made more fragile by conflict and disasters."
"We must demand humanitarian access in conflict areas, so mothers and children receive adequate food and health care," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "We also need to promote family-preparedness programs in disaster-prone areas, and ensure recovery efforts focus on the special needs of children. While we celebrate the mothers in our lives this week, we should also advocate for those who are in urgent need."