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Sweden taps neighbours to deliver migrants’ baby boom

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Stockholm: An unexpected migrant-propelled baby boom in Sweden has forced the “ill-prepared” Nordic nation to send many expecting mothers to neighboring countries to deliver, media report said on Tuesday.

Sweden, which like its Nordic peers has suffered from insufficient fertility rates for decades, was grappling to tackle with the sudden baby boom following the country’s “open doors” policy, Sputnik news reported.

Due to the “unforeseen lack of facilities”, expectant mothers were being sent to neighbouring Finland to deliver their babies.

According to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, Sweden, which takes pride in its state-funded medical care system and Europe’s longest maternity leaves, has recently witnessed a nationwide shortage of facilities to care for prematurely born babies.

In December alone, the country sent three families to the city of Turku in southwest Finland to give birth, due to the lack of services.

At present, only six university hospitals in Sweden possess the necessary facilities, and they are already under pressure with the rising number of mothers.

One of the mothers told the Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, that the decision to send her to Finland had indeed added to her level of stress.

Additionally, she encountered language problems, because ambulance staff in Finland only spoke Finnish and English, despite a state requirement for public servants to speak Swedish, one of Finland’s two official languages.

Pediatrician Erik Normann of Uppsala Academic Hospital ascribed the lack of facilities to the rising birth rate and elevated medical standards, implying that a higher proportion of babies born before term tend to survive nowadays.

Additionally, he pointed out that there is a shortage of nurses capable of tending to premature infants. At the same time, he said that it was rather unfortunate that the state has to ferry expectant mothers around.

According to Normann, there was risk of more foreign births in the future.

“Of course, there is a risk. The birth rate will increase after 2020, and all major cities’ university clinics are understaffed,” Erik Normann said.

According to neonatal specialist Liisa Lehtonen of Turku University Hospital in Finland, her institution was happy to offer assistance, although she admitted that it had been a long time since expectant mothers were sent to Finland.

Meanwhile, Swedish Health Minister Gabriel Wikström criticised local city councils in charge of health care for their failure to care for premature babies properly, calling it “unacceptable”.

“Expectant parents should not be sent abroad to give birth,” Wikström told Dagens Nyheter, stating that his own daughter was born six weeks before term.

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