Blood test reveals autism
Researchers at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, among other institutions, have developed a test which, with a simple prick of the finger, can reveal autism. In that way, they hope that it will be possible to find and treat children with autism at an early stage. In the test, the presence and concentration of specific peptides in the blood, is being checked. The study produced by the researchers and which is published in Nature, evaluates the test on some 30 autistic children as well as on the same number of healthy children. Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. For a diagnosis of autism to be made, onset of symptoms must occur before a child is three years old. For the study in Nature: A novel blood-based biomarker for detection of autism spectrum disorders

H&M’s “new stories”
Coming out from under a veil of secrecy, the Swedish clothing giant H&M now reveals they are opening yet another brand – this one titled & other stories. By offering somewhat more posh and somewhat more expensive clothes, H&M hopes to reach new customers, according to daily Dagens Nyheter. It was barely a year ago, when H&M opened their sister chain Cos in Stockholm, so with Monki, Weekday and Cheap Monday among the brand names & other stories will become the sixth member of the H&M family. According to Dagens Nyheter, the first stores will open in spring 2013. “We see this new chain as a compliment to H&M,” said H&M press officer Camilla Emilsson Falk. “It will be a bit above H&M price wise, and it will feature a bit better quality.” But the incentive is the same as with H&M: “Fashion and quality at the best price”. Customers can count on more than clothes this time, however, as the new brand will also feature hair care products, bed linens, tablecloths, and sporting goods.

Nasty shopping baskets
The shopping basket you grab in the grocery store to do your shopping is a breeding ground for bacteria. Salmonella, e-coli, listeria, and campylobacter have been found while checking the baskets, and the amount found exceeds Livsmedelverket’s (the National Food Agency) rules on what’s allowed when handling fresh produce. A company called Expo Clean performed the analysis. They examined grocery stores in Stockholm and Göteborg. According to Livsmedelsverket’s guidelines a maximum of 500 bacterial cells are allowed in handling fresh produce, but in some shopping baskets in Stockholm, up to 140 000 bacterial cells were found. One grocery store, Dagslivs Klippet in Stockholm, has chosen to fight the bacteria with a new “technology” – they wash and disinfect the baskets immediately in the store. “Washing the baskets is a different thing to do, and good customer service has been a positive thing that people around here talk about,” says Mickey Lindberg, managing director for the store.

Result of vaccine: 6 lives saved
60 percent of all Swedes got the swine flu vaccination in 2009. That’s the highest number in the world. The question is how many lives were saved because of it? “We’ve figured that six deaths were prevented thanks to the mass vaccination,” says Lisa Brouwers at Smittskyddsinstitutet (Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control ) to daily Svenska Dagbladet. As many lives were saved in Germany, where only 8 percent of the total population was vaccinated. The so-called Pandemik campaign in Sweden was one of the most expensive efforts in the country's health care history, but once the flu virus had run its course, 0.31 death cases per 100,000 people was the result. Poland, a country which didn’t have any swine flu vaccinations at all, had a death toll of 0.47. Nobody seems to know why Germany and Sweden have the same number of deaths in spite of the difference in vaccination. “ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) is looking into it now, but we have no answers yet,” Johan Giesecke, research director at ECDC, explains. Socialstyrelsen is also working on a report, which is yet to come.

Cold in space
What could be worse for a man than having a really bad cold? Answer: to have a really bad cold in space. “It was really bad. You can’t blow your nose up there,” says Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, who during the STS-116 and STS-128 missions spent a combined 26 days, 17 hours and 45 minutes in space. “The first trip went well, but during the other one I got a bad cold,” he says to daily Aftonbladet. And you don’t want a stuffed nose in outer space. The zero gravity makes it impossible to blow your nose. “You just can’t get the snot out, it stays inside your head. And then, when you return to earth, you’d better be prepared. The gravity will make it gush out of you,” says Fuglesang with a laugh. Fuglesang, who today is director of the European Space Agency, says that future experiments can not only influence knowledge about the immune system of astronauts, but scientists also will learn more about how white blood corpuscles function in general, which can also have an impact on the research of autoimmune diseases.

Mona’s new job
The former leader of the Social Democrats, Mona Sahlin, has a new job. According to Dagens Opinion, she’s entering the Board of Directors of Systembolaget (the government-owned chain of liquor stores in Sweden). Sahlin has been nominated along with Teracom’s CEO Crister Fritzon, and the two will replace, among others, Gert Karnberger, manager of Claes Ohlson. When Sahlin retired from her political career (she resigned as leader of the Social Democrats in March 2011), she was given a very high pension, but not much has been heard from her since (apart from the auction of her fancy handbag). But she’s back again, and will almost certainly be elected to Systembolaget’s Board of Directors at their yearly meeting on April 19. Said Lennart Agén, press officer of Systembolaget: “There won’t be any loud discussions about the elections of directors at our meeting.” Sahlin has also been nominated by the government to the post of director general of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, whose mission it is to promote employment, good working conditions, respect for labor rights, equality in the workplace and social protection at the global level. Earlier news on Mona Sahlin:

Pretty nurses please
Södersjukhuset on Södermalm in Stockholm needs nurses. You must be motivated, professional and have humor—and be a nurse, of course. On top of that it’s a bonus if you are “TV-show pretty or hip.” If you are, then you are welcome to send in your application for a job at Södersjukhuset’s emergency room. “We want someone to be curious and have imagination,” says head nurse Elisabeth Gauffin to The idea of pretty nurses came up during a meeting at the hospital, and the headline was taken from a quote in daily Dagens Nyheter where a patient talked about a visit to the emergency room. That the ad could be thought of as offensive or exclusive is something Gauffin doesn’t agree with. “If we thought of it like that, we would have never published it. We believe people understand we wrote like that to get attention.” Why it should be of importance to be “TV-show pretty” in the emergency room isn’t clear, but according to Gauffin no other department at Södersjukhuset has published ads with similar headlines. The job ad concerns summer substitutes for the coming summer, and those who get hired have a chance to get permanent jobs at the hospital. So, if you’re a nurse and believe you have the rest of what it takes, perhaps it’s a good idea to send in a photo and a list of your credentials?

Too wide a car or too narrow a street?
Oops! One of Visby’s narrowest streets took one car driver by surprise, and he got stuck. He left the car and ran away when he realized there was no way out. “I wonder how he got out of the car,” says Mats Lund, who lives nearby. Lund had trouble getting home last Sunday, as the car was parked on Vårdklockargatan, the narrowest street in Visby, blocking the route to his house. “It’s a tricky street,” Lund explains. “But everybody knows that.” Gotland Police had to be called upon, but when they arrived the driver had taken off. He has since removed the car.