UK
07/05/2014 11:03 BST | Updated 07/05/2014 11:59 BST

Britain Falls Down World Mother's Index, Named 26th On The List Of Best Places To Be A Mother

The UK has tumbled down the rankings of the World Mother's Index, putting it on a par with Belarus for maternal and child deaths, poverty and education standards.

Just over a decade ago, the UK was in the top 10 of countries, now it is 26th. It means that the world's sixth largest economy now trails behind its European neighbours, including Spain and Germany.

Other northern European nations topped the list, compiled by Save the Children, with Finland at number one, followed by Sweden and Iceland. Britain remains ahead of the US, which sits at a lowly 31, with mothers facing the same level as risk as those in Iran.

food bank uk

A mother and daughter at a food bank in Liverpool, as social depravation is named as one cause for the UK's low rank on the World Mother's Index

Obesity amongst pregnant woman in Britain has grown steadily, meaning more high-risk pregnancies. The charity also blamed social depravation, and access to healthcare for ethnic minorities and asylum seekers as the reason for the low ranking.

The ranking will come as a blow to David Cameron, who this week told his cabinet to boast more about the coalition's championing of women and mothers, telling them the Government had "undersold" itself.

All of the bottom 10 countries are conflict-ridden African nations, with Somalia named the worst place to be a mother.

"The tragedy is that in countries like the Democratic Republic Congo you are statistically more likely to die if you are a woman or child than if you are an armed fighter,” said Justin Forsyth, Save the Children chief executive.

“This report warns that these women and children must not be written off. Their chances of survival depend on access to midwives. The report calls for a skilled health worker to be present at every birth".