Thinking of having a baby? Don’t move to Afghanistan. The Middle Eastern country was ranked last on Save the Children’s Mother’s Index, an annual report that ranks 160 countries based on conditions affecting the health of mothers and their children.

Norway, Australia and Iceland all grabbed top spots on the list. The U.S., however, ranked 28th (down a spot from 2009), due to its maternal mortality rate, which (at 1 in 4,800) is the highest amongst developed countries. The low ranking is also influenced by the American maternity 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," Save the Children's principal adviser Mary Beth Powers told the The Associated Press.

The countries Powers is referring to include Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea, which rounded out the list’s bottom 10 in descending order.  

Afghanistan, specifically, was singled out for performing poorly on all indicators, including access to health care, education and economic opportunities.  
“In Afghanistan, a typical woman has just over 4 years of education and will live to be only 44,” the report says. “Sixteen percent of women are using modern contraception, and more than 1 child in 4 dies before his or her fifth birthday. At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child.”

Save the Children is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing long-term change in the health and treatment of children, with programs in over 120 countries, including the U.S. It was established in 1919 by British aristocrat Eglantyne Jebb. This is the 11th year of the Mother’s Index, released, appropriately, in conjunction with Mother’s Day.

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