02:46 GMT +320 November 2019
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    Spike in Miscarriages Aggravates Sweden's Demographic Struggles

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    Sweden, one of the European countries with birth rates among the natives below the level needed to support a constant population size, has been faced with an increase in the number of repeated miscarriages, which makes the Nordic country all the more dependent on immigration.

    A new study by Skåne University Hospital has revealed that during the period from 2003-2012 the proportion of women experiencing repeated miscarriages has increased by 58 percent. The reasons behind the increase remain unclear, Swedish Radio reported.

    The study addresses the problem of women with three or more miscarriages, without any children born between them. The average age of the women surveyed is 33. The increase is evident throughout the whole decade in question, but is stronger over the last five years of the study.

    The report failed to provide an explanation for the increase, yet according to Emma Råsmark Röpke, obstetrician and gynecology specialist at Skåne University Hospital, there are several possible reasons.

    "One theory is that the immune system reacts too strongly and rejects the fetus. We also see an increase in inflammatory diseases, such as allergies, in Swedish society," Emma Råsmark Röpke said.

    Other possible causes may include lifestyle factors such as increased weight and smoking. However, average weight has only increased marginally during the period, with fewer pregnant smokers registered than before.

    Emma Råsmark Röpke expressed hope that the study will in the long run help shed more light on the causes of repeated miscarriages and devise ways of treating them.

    Meanwhile, fertility problems seem a bit more obvious for men. Earlier this year, sperm counts in men in the Western world, including America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, were reported to have dropped by more than 50 percent in less than 40 years. The alarming rate of decline pointed to a potential deterioration in male health and fertility. Although the analysis did not explore the reasons for the decline, the falling sperm counts were previously attributed to various factors, such as exposure to chemicals and pesticides, smoking, stress and obesity.

    Hagai Levine, who co-led the work at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem, called this study a "wake-up call" for researchers.

    Birth rates among ethnic Swedish women have long been below the fertility rate of 2.1, which is considered necessary to maintain a constant population size. Over the past decades, however, Sweden has been betting on immigration as the main source of population growth. In 2016, Sweden's population exceeded the 10 million milestone, partly owing to the constant arrival of "new Swedes."

    Incidentally, the newcomers tend to have higher birth rates compared with their native born counterparts. According to a 2012 report by Statistics Sweden, foreign-born women had a fertility rate of 2.17 children per women, as opposed to 1.87 among ethnic Swedes.

    Despite the domestic baby blues, the Swedish population is estimated to surpass 13 million by 2060. As of December 2014, before the outbreak of the migrant crisis that brought about 200,000 asylum seekers to the Nordic country, 21.5 percent of the Swedish population had a foreign background.

    In late 2016, Swedish Employment Service Director General Mikael Sjöberg argued that Sweden needed an annual addition of 64,000 able-bodied migrants to counter the dramatic labor shortage.

    "Too few of us are born to be able to make it without immigration," Mikael Sjöberg told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    demographics, birth rate, fertility, Scandinavia, Sweden
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