Soft drinks may lead to premature birth
Too many soft drinks during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk in giving birth prematurely. The risk to give birth before week 32 increases dramatically if you down a glass or more of sugar-sweetened drink a day. This according to a new study from Göteborg University where researchers studied how childbirths were affected by the mother’s thirst for soda pop during pregnancy. The study picks up where an enormous Norwegian poll left; 60 000 women were asked what they ate and drank while pregnant. “We found a connection between artificially sweetened and sugar sweetened drinks and the risk for premature births,” says doctoral candidate Linda Englund-Ögge, one of the researchers behind the study. “But the connection with sugared drinks was stronger, at least in some groups.” Englund-Ögge is a obstetrician as well as a nutritionist whose primary focus is how what women eat and drink affect their pregnancy. “If you drink a glass or more of sugar-sweetened soda a day, you increase the risk with 25%,” she says. “If you drink the same but are overweight, the risk increases with 41%.” Englund-Ögge points out that this is an observational study. “I know from the results of the study that the women who drink a lot of sweet drinks give birth prematurely,” she says. “But I cannot say the sweet drinks are the reason. There might be other common indicators among these women, like eating habits that are worse in general or socio-economical factors we haven’t looked into, that makes them give birth prematurely.”

Flu vaccine in the form of spray
Swedish children suffering from fear of needles, may be able to take a breath of relief. A new flu vaccine is available in a nasal spray version. “The only thing negative about it is the price,” says Professor Emeritus Leif Gothefors at Umeå University. The vaccine has been available in the US since 2003, and was launched in Sweden this past Wednesday. According to Gothefors, a pediatrician, it has been used in 40 million doses and is much more effective than the regular flu shot. “You could call it twice as effective as the regular flu shot. It is also safer,” he says. But it is not for children under 2 years of age as studies have shown the may get asthma-like symptoms, it is also not effective for people over age 18. “It’s a vaccine that’s good for parents who want to protect their children against the fly. And especially children in the risk zone: Children who have heart- or lung problems, or children with neuromotor handicaps. For these groups I feel the vaccine should be considered.” The problem is the price: “I don’t know how much it is exactly, but if the general vaccine costs around 50 SEK ($8), then this is probably around 200 SEK ($31).”

Olof Palme's sons speak out
On the night he was murdered, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and his wife walked home from a movie theater without security guards. New information reveals that he had tried to get some. “He called but never got hold of them,” says his son Joakim Palme to daily Aftonbladet. The new documentary about Palme is hitting movie theaters all over Sweden, and his three sons, Mårten, Joakim and Mattias are talking about their late father (Olof Palme was born 1927 and died in 1986) in the popular talk show “Skavlan”. The sons talk to Skavlan, the program host, about how the hate for their father increased from the late 1970’s and 1980’s. After the murder of Yugoslavia’s ambassador in Stockholm in 1972, Palme was offered security and lifeguards. “He didn’t like it. He didn’t like having to plan every time he was going out, he felt it hampered him,” says Joakim Palme. “But he had a deal with Säpo (the Swedish Security service) that they were only to be around him during working hours.” His security personnel were off at the time Palme and his wife Lisbet went to the movies together. “It’s heavy to think about it,” says Joakim Palme. “We have discussed this issue throughout the years, but it has always fallen into the shadows somehow.” Palme’s sons are happy about how the documentary turned out: “We’ve seen these clips before ourselves, but it was a chance to show (others) what dad was like as a person. His zest for life and his enthusiasm often get lost in the shadows of the crime.” The youngest Palme, Mattias – today 44 years old – hasn’t given many interviews. He told Skavlan about his childhood in Vällingby, about his impractical father who could barely open the oven door. “My father and I had a close relationship, especially after my brothers left home,” Mattias said. “We used to play board games together. Sometimes we went out to eat and he liked to help me with my homework.” Mattias Palme also talks about how the hate for his father became more palpable when his friends at school let him know how their parents talked about Olof Palme in the privacy of their homes. “I was afraid, I have to say. I was probably more afraid on his behalf than he was himself,” he says. Mårten Palme realized how he too had been afraid, but only after the murder: “I realized afterwards that I had been fearful for quite some time. But at that time, I was shocked.”

Spiders stopping the money flow
An ATM machine at Backaplan in Goteborg is standing empty but not deserted. It has no money inside, but is the host of a large colony of spiders. In spite of the fact that the machine, which is located just outside of the Coop Forum grocery store, was sanitized last spring, the spiders keep returning. Now the firm that recharges the machine with money refuses to do so. “Our employees shouldn’t have to pick out 15-20 spiders while working,” says Joakim Persson, the company chief, who has now reported a complaint to Arbetsmiljöverket (the Swedish Work Environment Authority). “We’ve been in contact with the bank and the landlord but have not heard back from either of them,” Persson continues. Swedbank’s office director Michael Johansson explains: “That the problem has occurred again is new to us.”

Boa constrictor on the loose
A woman in her 70's got an unexpected visit in her apartment in Torsby last Friday. When she got out of bed, a 3-feet long brown-speckled boa constrictor was resting on her TV-bench, according to Nya Werlands-Tidningen. The woman, obviously in shock, had just moved into her apartment, and called police. The police in turn contacted the person who had previously lived in the apartment, and it turned out that person had “forgotten” to take his snake with him to his new place.