Can a new action plan help prevent stillbirths in southern Sweden?

Sweden's most southerly county is to launch a stillbirth action plan after 71 babies were born dead in the county in 2018.

Can a new action plan help prevent stillbirths in southern Sweden?
The risk of stillbirths is higher than the Swedish average. Photo: Lise Åserud/TT
The risk of babies being stillborn in the county is a full 25 percent higher than in Stockholm County and well above the Swedish average. 
“That these regional differences exist points to the fact that it's possible to do something about it, and it feels good that we are doing that now,” Sven Oredsson, the county medical advisor who has proposed the plan, told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT
At a meeting on Wednesday evening, the healthcare committee on Skåne's regional council is expected to appoint an expert group to assess ways to reduce the number of stillborn children in the country. 
The county council is expected to approve the idea to draw up the plan on June 27th, with the detailed plan to be published in October. 
Oredsson said that the the risk of stillbirth was higher for babies born to older women, overweight women, women who smoke, and women born in the Middle East or Africa. 
He said it was unclear exactly why children born to women who themselves had been born in the Middle East or Africa were more likely to be stillborn. 
“It might be because you haven't had a great reception when you felt that something was wrong, so you don't get in touch [with the health authorities] again,” Oredsson said. “That might also be part of it, and it's something we'll be looking at.” 
He stressed that with 16,000 children born in Skåne each year the risk of stillbirth was still not that high. 
“You've got to bear in mind that the risk of anything happening is small,” he said. “But every time an accident like this happens is one time too many.” 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How you can get your company in Sweden to pay for you to get a massage

Many Swedish companies offer their employees a tax-free 'friskvårdsbidrag' (health benefit or contribution) for "activities which incorporate some form of exercise" (like a gym membership) or "de-stressing or relaxing" activities, such as a massage.

How you can get your company in Sweden to pay for you to get a massage

How do I know if I get this benefit?

As a first point of call, you should check your job contract. If you have a kollektivavtal (collective bargaining agreement), there’s a good chance you also have friskvårdsbidrag, but this isn’t always the case.

If you can’t find anything about it in your job contract, try asking HR to see if there’s a particular company policy offering friskvårdsbidrag. One of the stipulations for the benefit is that it has to be offered to all the company’s employees, so if you know one of your colleagues has it, even if they’re in a different department, that means you have it too.

One important thing to note is that, although the maximum legal amount a company can offer is 5,000 kronor per year, some employers may offer a friskvårdsbidrag under this limit. So even if you do have this benefit, double check the amount you can get back with your HR department before you book an expensive gym membership or course of exercise.

What kind of activities does it cover?

Officially, friskvårdsbidrag covers activities “which include some form of exercise or other simple health activity which doesn’t include exercise but is, for example, de-stressing or relaxing”. So, it’s pretty broad, but there are still some exceptions.

You can’t, for example, use the contribution to buy or rent sports equipment (unless this rental fee is included in the activity, like a horse and saddle for horseriding, a bowling ball for bowling or rental of a canoe, for example). You can’t use it to pay your membership fees for a sports club either, although you can use it for a gym membership. Other off-limit options are theoretic courses, diplomas, or health or beauty treatments.

In terms of “de-stressing or relaxing” activities, these should cost no more than 1,000 kronor per visit, and activities such as massage or acupuncture are included, but not beauty-related spa treatments, like a skin treatment or facial.

You can also use it for courses to aid posture or movement (such as balance training), treatments designed to aid weight loss or to help quit smoking, and courses to help couples prepare for childbirth.

As a result of the pandemic, friskvårdsbidrag also applies to apps or other websites aiding exercise or some other healthy activity, and it doesn’t matter if you use this app or website at home or somewhere else, such as at the gym. Examples in this category include online yoga classes, weight loss programmes and programmes to help you quit smoking, digital apps or tools to register your own exercise, such as walks or runs, and apps for nutrition, counting steps or measuring your pulse.

How do I use it?

Each company will have a different process for processing friskvårdsbidrag, so the best thing to do is to contact your HR department before you pay for an activity to check the details first. Check if the activity you’re planning on using it for will count, and ask how to apply once you’ve completed the activity.

As a general rule, you’ll pay up-front and will be reimbursed once you submit a receipt or proof of payment to your employer, so make sure to keep track of your paperwork so you can get your money back, and make sure not to go over your maximum limit over the course of a year.

What happens if I don’t use the full amount?

Sweden’s Tax Agency stipulates that employers may only offer a maximum of 5,000 kronor per year in friskvårdsbidrag, so you usually won’t be able to roll over any unused money to the next year.

As a general rule, if you don’t use it, you lose it, but check with your employer what the policy is in your workplace to make sure you know what applies in your situation.

The Tax Agency does not allow friskvårdsbidrag to be exchanged for cash, so you won’t be able to cash in any unused funds at the end of the year, either.