May 7, 2013
US Ranks 68 For Best Countries To Give Birth
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Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineDespite being home to world-class medical facilities, the United States is ranked behind 68 other countries in a new report on the best places in the world to give birth.
Based on metrics surrounding the care of newborn children and their mothers, the Save the Children's“¯State of the World's Mothers report found that the three countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula — Finland, Sweden and Norway — are the best places for mothers to bring a child into the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo had the dubious distinction of being the worst for both mothers and their babies.
“The birth of a child should be a time of wonder and celebration. But for millions of mothers and babies in developing countries, it is a dance with death,” the report said. “A baby´s first day is the most dangerous day of life — in the United States and countries rich and poor.”
The report singled out the unusually high mortality rate among newborns as an indicator of the US´s relatively low status.
“The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world,” the report said. “An estimated 11,300 newborn babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined.”
In compiling their report, researchers at Save the Children looked at five different categories of criteria: lifetime risk of maternal death, under-5 mortality rate, expected years of formal schooling, gross national income per capita, and participation of women in national government. This list of five criteria was whittled down from the twelve that were used in the 2012 report.
“Reducing the number of indicators shines a spotlight on what matters most in the lives of mothers and their children,” the organization said. “The indicators now primarily capture important outcomes.”
Experts say that most child deaths occur because the babies are born too early. According to the report, 35 percent of all newborns that died were pre-term, 23 percent died because of problems during birth, another 23 percent died from infections, and 9 percent died because of birth defects.
The organization theorized that the US has so many first-day deaths because of the amount of teen pregnancies, which is the highest of any industrialized nation.
“Teenage mothers in the US tend to be poorer, less educated, and receive less prenatal care than older mothers,” the report said. “Because of these challenges, babies born to teen mothers are more likely to be low-birthweight and be born prematurely and to die in their first month. They are also more likely to suffer chronic medical conditions, do poorly in school, and give birth during their teen years (continuing the cycle of teen pregnancy).”
The report suggested that a plan to boost the education of young girls could have a knock-on effect for reducing the mortality rate of US babies.
“The more time girls spend in school, the later they marry and begin childbearing,” the group said. “Educated girls also are more likely to grow up to be mothers who are healthy, well-nourished, economically empowered and resourceful when it comes to caring for themselves and their babies.”