Last updated at 13:47 BST, Thursday, 10 May 2012

Worst place to be a mother

Summary

10 May 2012

The West African state of Niger, currently severely affected by a growing regional food crisis, has become the worst place in the world to be a mother, according to Save the Children.

Reporter:

Mike Wooldridge

Mother rests her hand on the leg of her son.

Nearly one third of Niger's children are malnourished.

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Report

This year's report highlights the major impact nutrition has on the welfare of mothers and children, in particular, the chronic malnutrition that undermines physical and mental growth, producing stunting and what Save the Children calls the vicious cycle of mothers stunted in childhood who go on to give birth to underweight and vulnerable babies.

Food emergencies compound the impact, and Niger is at the epicentre of the emergency currently developing in the Sahel. After two years at the bottom of the index Afghanistan has moved up one position, partly, Save the Children says, because it's invested in more front-line health workers.

The agency says the simple measure of supporting more mothers to breastfeed could save a million children's lives a year.

Save the Children identifies Norway as the best place to be a mother. It ranks the United Kingdom tenth.

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Vocabulary

nutrition

the process by which eating food makes someone healthy

welfare

health and safety

chronic

long-lasting

undermines

weakens

vicious cycle

a bad situation that repeats itself

vulnerable

weak and easily harmed

epicentre

central point

front-line

important, actually doing the work

measure

action

ranks

positions, scores

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