Best and Worst Places to Be a Mom

Survey Shows Norway Is the Best Country to Be a Mother; U.S. Ranks 28

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on May 06, 2010

May 6, 2010 -- It will be a very happy Mother's Day for moms in Norway, Australia, Iceland, and Sweden this Sunday, as a new survey ranks these countries as the best places to be a mom.

The Save the Children Mother's Index compared the health and well-being of mothers and children in 160 countries. The rankings are based on the health, educational, and economic status of moms and their kids.

The worst place to be a mom? Afghanistan, where health professionals are present at fewer than 15% of births, and one in eight women die of pregnancy or child-birth-related issues.

The U.S. ranked No. 28 in the survey. The rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. (one in 4,800), as well as the country's less generous maternity leave policies, were responsible for the low ranking.

A U.S. woman is more than five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, or Italy, and 10 times more likely than a woman in Ireland, the survey finds. The U.S. also scored poorly on the mortality rate of children under age 5. In the U.S., eight of 1,000 children die before reaching age 5, the survey shows.

"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," said Mary Beth Powers, the chief of Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival Campaign, in a news release. "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."

Top 10 List

According to the survey, the top 10 best places to be a mom are:

  1. Norway
  2. Australia
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Denmark
  6. New Zealand
  7. Finland
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Belgium
  10. Germany

10 Worst List

The 10 worst places to be a mom are:

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