Where's the Best Place to be a Mom?

People often like to think their moms are the best, but is their country the best place to be for moms?

On a list of best and worst places to be a mom, the United States ranked 28th -- between Croatia and Luxembourg, according to the "State of the World's Mothers" report by the Save the Children foundation.

A range of measures -- from mother's education, to infant mortality to representation in national legislatures -- was included in the study, which Save the Children has produced for the past 11 years.

VIDEO: Why are a growing number of American moms dying shortly after giving birth?
New Moms at Risk

This year, Norway and Australia topped the list, while Afghanistan came in last out of 160 countries included in the study.

"The United States just isn't doing as well by its own mothers as our European colleagues are," said Mary Beth Powers, newborn and child survival campaign chief for Save the Children.

Yet some U.S. doctors say international measures of health or death records vary too much for the rankings to be meaningful.

"The ranking... is interesting but I'm not sure what practical value it has and how it can be properly assessed," said Dr. Michael Katz, the senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

"Comparing Norway with Bangladesh is not a reasonable approach," he said.

Powers said Save the Children did tailor the rankings and measurements to developing and developed nations.

The survey found the U.S. did worse than European countries in infant mortality, maternity leave and representation in Congress. Women make up 17 percent of Congress in the U.S. but in Norway, 39 percent of the national legislature is made up of women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

But it was maternal mortality -- or the risk that a woman will die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related causes -- that really sank the U.S. rankings.

Maternal Mortality Drags Down U.S. Rankings

In the U.S., one out of every 4,800 women died of causes related to pregnancy. In Ireland the risk is less than 1 in 47,600.

"In places like Niger and Afghanistan you have a one in eight chance of dying after birth," said Powers.

Save the Children and The Advertising Council teamed up in a "Where the Good Goes" campaign to raise awareness, and funds for programs in the countries that ranked at the bottom of the index.

"We need more health workers, we also need health workers beyond the clinic walls -- you really need women there to counsel moms and newborns," Powers said of the lowest-ranking countries.

But how to improve a rich, yet complicated country like the U.S. has drawn debate and criticism -- particularly on the measurement of infant mortality.

Who Counts What, When

"Infant mortality is defined as the number of children born alive who die after birth -- but this differs state to state and country to country," said Dr. Benjamin Sachs, a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

For example, in the U.S., if a woman delivers a baby at 17 weeks the child might have a heartbeat and move before it dies, but it could not survive outside of the womb.

"A child born at 17 weeks would be considered a miscarriage," said Sachs, who is also dean of the Medical School of Tulane University in New Orleans.

But a child born prematurely at 23 weeks, weighing one pound, has a 20 percent chance of survival. In some countries that would be considered a miscarriage, but in others it would be considered an infant death.

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