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Swedish mothers older than ever

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13:44 CEST+02:00
Swedish women are pushing the biological clock boundaries and the number of last-minute mothers is on the up. New research from Statistics Sweden has revealed that life really does begin at 40 for more and more new mothers.

According to Monday's Svenska Dagbladet, there has been a significant shift upwards in the number of over 40's giving birth. Last year almost 3,000 children were born to mothers over the age of 40 and this has contributed to the average age for women having their first born in Sweden being at an all time high.

On average women in Stockholm have their first child at the age of 30.4. The affluent Östermalmers are the oldest at 32.2 years old whilst the youngest at 27.2 live in the suburb of Spånga, which comprises the immigrant-dense areas of Tensta and Rinkeby.

Statistics Sweden's Gun Alm Stenflo told SvD, "The poor economic climate of the 90s resulted in more people choosing to have children later in life. At that time it was difficult to secure a steady job and many chose to study longer."

This year, Sweden's population broke the 9 million barrier but the future's not looking bright for the next milestone.

The report also revealed that the birthrate in Sweden is on the decline. During the 1990s, Swedish women had an average of two children. "We estimate that figure will fall and women born in the 1980s will have an average of 1.85 children," said Gun Alm Stenflo.

Meanwhile, Tuesday's Göteborgs-Posten revealed that a number of Swedish women have fallen foul of a super-safe contraceptive.

Since its release on the Swedish market in 2001 over 35,000 women in Sweden have been using the contraceptive Implanon. "Or so they they thought," as GP ominously put it.

The flexible rod which is inserted under the skin in the upper arm was supposed to prevent pregnancy for up to three years. According to the paper, at least 16 women in Sweden, including a 15 year old girl, have become pregnant whilst supposedly using Implanon. Reports suggest many others have had a lucky escape.

In some cases the contraceptive has not been fitted properly and has either ended up on the floor or is left in its packaging - despite the fact that the nurse and patient think it has been implanted. GP said this is largely due to the badly-constructed device and poor information given to doctors.

Makers Organon, the world's biggest producers of contraceptive drugs, have made marginal changes in information given to Swedish doctors on using their Implanon product.

However, Gunnar Ekbron, senior lawyer for Sweden's National Agency for Medicines (Läkemedelsverket), told GP. "The company doesn't care about the unwanted pregnancies so long as they are making money. It's disgraceful."

Organon Sweden has produced bi-annual reports to the National Agency for Medicines documenting the number of reported unwanted pregnancies. But these have not been made public.

Gunnar Ekborn told GP, "If the public is at risk it is important that the information is given out."

Problems with Implanon have also been highlighted in other countries. After insurance companies sounded the alarm in Australia, doctors there were forbidden to recommend the contraceptive to patients.

The ban was withdrawn last year but strict procedures have been introduced to ensure it is fitted properly.

Richard Lindgren from Organon Sweden told GP, "We haven't discussed the introduction of any procedures" although he admits there is an "indication" that problems with fitting Implanon remain, despite the company's attempt to inform doctors better.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Göteborgs-Posten

Christine Demsteader

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