Happy Mother’s Day – especially to mine. I have been blessed with a good one and I am fortunate today to be celebrating with her. Many have lost theirs -- some recently -- which makes this day difficult. Others are struggling due to conditions which one might expect to be better in this great country of ours.
So, what is the state of the world's mothers? It depends on where you live -- and living in America is no guarantee that life is good. Though this day of celebration has been recognized in the U.S. since May 1905, many mothers will not survive the birth of their children.
A woman in the United States faces a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death, according to a 2015 report from Save the Children. Those numbers are the worst of any developed country in the world. U.S. women are more than 10 times as likely to die from a cause related to pregnancy as those in Belarus, Poland and Austria.
More than 85.4 million mothers are living today in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are approximately 2 billion mothers living worldwide.
The State of the World's Mothers 2015 report is a global index that ranks the best and worst places to be a mother based on the latest available data on indicators like political status, economics, education, children's well-being and maternal health. It is compiled periodically by the charity and advocacy group Save the Children.
The organization ranks the U.S. at No. 33 of 179 surveyed countries. The U.S. ranked No. 42 on children's well-being, No. 61 on maternal health and No. 89 for political status. And it will be interesting to see how the U.S. ranks in political status (participation of women in national government) when the report is compiled under the Trump Administration. Based on photos and reports I've seen thus far, we will be dropping even further.
Among the other statistics, the report found that an American child under age 5 is about as likely to die (6.9 per 1,000 live births) as one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovakia or Macedonia. Of the 25 capital cities of wealthy countries surveyed, the report found Washington, D.C., had the highest rate of infant mortality (7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births as of 2012). In comparison, cities like Stockholm and Oslo had rates below 2.0. Washington's rate fell in 2013, to 6.6, but a number of major American cities have had rates much higher.
Contributing factors included prematurity, insufficient prenatal care, education and poverty. Save the Children found race to be a factor, too. The national average for deaths per live births in the U.S. is 6.1 per 1,000, but the report found it is much higher for unwed, poor and young black mothers.
Here are some other statistics from the Census Bureau: There are 43.5 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 who have children; 3.9 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 gave birth in the past 12 months; 35.8 percent of women age 15 to 50 who had a birth in the past 12 months were unmarried; 22.3 percent of women age 15 to 50 have had two children; about 42.4 percent had no children, 17 percent had one, 11.7 percent had three, and about 6.8 percent had four or more; 61.8 percent of women age 16 to 50 who had a birth in the past 12 months were in the labor force; of the women who gave birth in the past 12 months, 31.3 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher and 86.3 percent age 15 to 50 have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.
The best places to live for overall maternal health and well being included Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Australia and Belgium. The bottom were Haiti and Sierra Leone (tied), Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Niger, Mali, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
Happy Mother's Day. Hopefully one day, U.S. women can celebrate maternal health comparable to that of Norway. Perhaps our elected officials should check out what health care options exist in some of those top 10 countries.
Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sheawilson7.