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Norway best country for moms, kids

May 3, 2011 at 5:56 PM

LONDON, May 3 (UPI) -- Norway, Australia and Iceland are the best countries for mothers and children, the aid agency Save the Children said Tuesday.

They were followed by Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and France in the Top 10. The United States ranked 31st.

At the bottom of the list of 164 countries were the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Yemen, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Afghanistan.

Sweden ranked first when only children's well-being is considered and Somalia was in last place.

The group said that in Norway almost all births are supervised by medical personnel, while in Afghanistan 14 percent are. Norwegian women have a life expectancy of 83 years and average 18 years of schooling, while women in Afghanistan are likely to die before they turn 45 and average about 4 years of school.

About 20 percent of children in Afghanistan die before their fifth birthday, so most mothers are likely to lose at least one child. In Norway, about one in 175 mothers is likely to lose a young child.

"The human despair and lost opportunities represented in these numbers demand mothers everywhere be given the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children and for generations to come," Save the Children said.

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