How the Health of U.S. Moms Stacks Up in Global Ranking

Hint: American moms are between Somali moms (at the low end) and Norwegians (with the highest ranking), and by some measures on par with the Serbians.

The United States ranks last among developed nations for the health of its mothers.

That’s according to a new report by Save the Children, which ranked 179 countries on the best and worst places to be a mother. The rankings were based on maternal health, children’s well-being, and the educational, economic and political status of women.

“State of the World’s Mothers: The Urban Disadvantage,” ranked the United States 33rd on the list, the poorest ranking for a developed country. Norway ranked first, and Somalia ranked last.

“While the U.S. did well on economic and educational status, it falls behind all other top-ranked countries on maternal health, where America lands a lackluster 61st; children’s well-being, where the U.S. is 42nd, and political status, for which the U.S. ranks 89th, Mashable said.

The study found that American women face a 1 in 1,800 risk of pregnancy-related death. Plus, nearly 7 in 1,000 children in the U.S. die before their fifth birthday (Serbia has a similar rate). In addition, women hold less than 20 percent of seats in Congress.

“We need to do more to make sure that all mothers and babies have a fair chance of survival and a happy, healthy life, no matter where they live,” Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, said in a statement. “Save the Children believes that a mother in Somalia or, frankly, a mother in America, deserves the same opportunity to thrive as a mother in Norway.

The report also highlighted the gaps between the rich and poor in the U.S. when it comes to maternal and infant health.

“In some United States cities, urban child survival gaps between rich and poor are greater than those found in developing countries,” the report said.

In Washington, D.C., 6.6 infants died per 1,000 births in 2013, the lowest rate the city has ever experienced. But it’s an elevated infant mortality rate for a wealthy city. In fact, it was the highest rate among the 25 wealthiest capital cities in the report. For comparison, it’s three times the rates in Tokyo and Stockholm. The poor in Washington, D.C., have it the worst.

“Babies in Ward 8, where over half of all children live in poverty, are about 10 times as likely as babies in Ward 3, the richest part of the city, to die before their first birthday,” the report said.

Race plays a role in determining a region’s infant mortality rate in the U.S., NBC reports.

“In many U.S. cities, poor, unmarried and young African-American mothers are losing their babies at much higher rates than the U.S. average,” the report found. In San Francisco, for instance, a black mother is six times more likely than a white mom to lose her baby.

Are you surprised to see how far the U.S. lags behind other developed nations when it comes to maternal health? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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