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Finland is one of the best countries in the world to be a mom. How does the U.S. compare?

Even among highly developed nations, there are vast disparities in the experience of becoming a mom.

We all know that the Nordic countries consistently rank sky high when it comes to many measures of wellness—happiness, health, quality of life, life expectancy, education, and the list goes on.

So perhaps it's not surprising that Finland is frequently touted as one of the best places to become a mother. As CBS This Morning points out, the country has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world. The Finnish government's maternity and paternity leave policies put many countries to shame. Residents enjoy top-notch, low-cost healthcare, which includes free checkups for kids after birth.


To top it off, every new mom receives a box full of gifts in the mail to make the first weeks and months with their baby easier, and the box itself can double as a bed for her baby.

In other words, Finnish moms have got it good from the get go.

When you look at the numbers compared to the U.S., it's even clearer how good Finnish moms have it.

First, there's the cost of healthcare. The average natural childbirth in a U.S. hospital costs around $12,000, and many insurances don't cover the whole cost. (I paid $1500 out of pocket after insurance for an unmedicated, uncomplicated childbirth in which baby and I stayed in the hospital for less than 24 hours.) In Finland, the whole childbirth will set families back a whopping $60.

Sixty. Six zero. For the whole childbirth.

Then there's the actual health of new moms. Finnish mothers are much more likely to survive childbirth and the postpartum period than American moms. In fact, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is six times higher than it is in Finland. Six. Times. And our rates have only gotten worse over the past few decades, while Finland's have gotten better.

Maternal death rates for African-American moms are three times higher in the U.S. than for white moms. That's one reason why Laura Smith, a black mother from Detroit living in Helsinki with her Finnish husband, told CBS that she chose to have her baby in Finland instead of the U.S. "My concerns mattered," she said. "My voice mattered. They saw me, they took care of me no matter what I look like. That's something I couldn't be certain about in the States."

How about paid maternity leave? In Finland, moms a guaranteed four months of paid maternity leave. Fathers get almost two months of paid leave, and then couples get another five-ish months of leave to share between them.

How much paid maternity and paternity leave are Americans guaranteed? None. Nada. Zilch. (And we're the only developed nation with that claim to fame. Winning!)

Instead of "Make America Great Again," maybe we should try to "Make America Great Like Finland." MAGLF!

Yes, Finns pay higher taxes for these benefits. But you don't hear many of them complaining.

Americans have a long-standing hatred for paying taxes. Issues with taxation are literally what drove our founders to declare independence from the crown, so distrust of taxes is woven into the fabric of our national identity. Therefore, when we hear that people pay a higher percent of their income in taxes in Finland, our first reaction is, "Aw, hell no."

But when you add up how much we pay for healthcare, how much we pay for daycare (subsidized by the Finnish government and adjusted according to income), how much we pay for college (yep, higher education is also covered in Finland), etc., what the Finns pay doesn't actually look that high. Everyone in a society benefits when people have their healthcare needs met, the populace is well educated, and families are able to care for their children without stressing over whether they can pay their bills.

When CBS told a Finnish mother that in parts of the U.S. moms receive no paid maternity leave, she asked, "Well how do you do that?" Excellent question.

"We are collecting a lot of taxes," said Finland's Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Annika Saarikko, "but if you go and ask from the Finns, 'Are you okay with that?' everybody is saying, 'Yes. We have good use with that system.'"

Many people argue that there are fundamental differences between the U.S. and Finland that make comparisons difficult. However, at least when it comes to healthcare, the argument falls flat—literally every other developed nation in the world provides universal healthcare.

Helsinki University Hospital Chief Physician Dr. Aydin Tekay told CBS This Morning that the only reason the Finnish healthcare system couldn't be replicated in the U.S. is because of politics.

Yep. MAGLF!

Watch the segment on CBS This Morning:

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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