Report: Best and Worst Places to be a Mother
The United States is the 25th best place to be a mom. As Mother's Day approaches, the aid organization Save the Children released its annual State of the World's Mothers report Tuesday, ranking the best and worst countries in which to be a mom. The report is based on measures including mothers' education, access to medical care, infant mortality, breastfeeding rates, and children's health and nutrition. Norway tops the list, largely because it ranks the best on contraceptive use, female education, and political representation, and has generous maternity leave policies. Niger, where women only have a life expectancy of 56, was ranked lowest, a spot Afghanistan had held for the past two years. The United States performs below average overall, particularly in areas like lifetime risk of dying from childbirth. American moms face a 1-in-2,100 risk of maternal death, which is the highest of any industrialized nation, the Los Angeles Times reports. And a child in the U.S. is four times as likely as a child in Iceland to die before age 5.
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Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children
The child left his mother's sight for mere minutes. Yet that was enough time for 21-month-old Ollie Hebb to fall into the top-loading washing machine and become submerged in a full tub. The Utah boy died a day later, after suffering severe brain damage.
Between 2005 and 2009, two children under the age of five died as a result of laundry room accidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Washing machine-related injuries are more common than deaths, says Scott Wolfson, director of public affairs for the CPSC. Aside from drowning, children may suffer burns from hot water in the machine, or injuries to their limbs if they come into contact with a rapidly spinning basin. "Kids are curious. We have to be very vigilant about our children, and really live in the moment and be present when we're supervising them," says Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, which aims to prevent unintentional childhood injuries.
Washing machines aren't the only hidden dangers lurking in homes. Here are 5 others to be cautious of:
Standing water. Drowning concerns extend beyond swimming pools. Any type of standing water—even if it's just an inch deep—can harm a child. "The bathroom is the riskiest room in the house," says Garry Gardner, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' council on injury, violence, and poison prevention. "Children lean over and look into the toilet or bathtub, they trip, and they fall in." Keep young children out of the bathroom unless they're being closely watched, and teach others in the home to keep the bathroom door closed at all times. Ice chests with melted ice, water buckets or pails, and whirlpools also pose risks. Empty all buckets, pails, and bathtubs completely after use; never leave them filled or unattended. And adjust the water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at the faucet is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to help avoid burns. [Read more: Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children.]
How Much Healthcare Do You Need?
When you need the best care medicine has to offer, chances are you can find someone with the required skills in the United States. Whether it involves repairing a sick heart or blasting a cancerous clump of cells deep within the brain with a precisely targeted beam of radiation, advanced care is so widely available that America's health system long claimed bragging rights for providing the best care on Earth.
Then came a scathing report, now 13 years old, from the Institute of Medicine, a quasi-government think-tank known for tackling some of the toughest issues in healthcare. It charged that errors and unsafe practices in U.S. hospitals may kill nearly 50,000 patients a year, possibly even twice that number. A flurry of studies released since then show that the hazards in U.S. healthcare persist today—nasty bugs passed on to patients in hospitals and clinics, unneeded and risky tests and procedures, medications that hurt more than help, treatment guidelines that are overlooked or ignored, doctors who base treatment decisions on instinct rather than evidence, computerized health information technology that should make care safer and more efficient but too often does the opposite—and the list is still growing.
The question, then, is: How can you take advantage of the strengths of the U.S. healthcare system and not be harmed by its weaknesses? The answer, in six words: Get only the healthcare you need. [Read more: How Much Healthcare Do You Need?]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.