Vaccination (That 11 letter word)

Vaccination, it’s almost worse than saying a swear word in the USA.  There is such a huge debate going on about whether or not you should vaccinate your children in the US right now, unfortunately I think it comes from the fact that the healthcare industry over there is for profit.  The fact that so many companies capitalize on people being sick rather than actually trying to make them better doesn’t help the cause.  I have only lived in Sweden for a year, but having a baby over here and seeing how they vaccinate first-hand gives me a bit more insight.  I am by no means an expert on this topic, so please do not take my observation as science.

Despite being able to compare the vaccination schedules in these two countries, it is not comparing apples to apples.  There are a few factors that come in to play; the number one being the population size, followed by demographics.  Sweden’s 2015 population according to Wikipedia is 9,737,455 whereas US’s 2015 population is 320,386,661. I’ve noticed there are a lot of things that may work in Sweden simply due to a more “manageable population”, but that’s a topic for another post.  The US has a more diverse population than Sweden and it seems that the vaccination schedule takes that into account.  Sweden is mainly populated by indigenous Swedes (although that is currently changing due to an influx of immigration due to refugee migration), the USA on the other hand is referred to as a melting pot since the only indigenous Americans would be the Native Americans who were not vaccinated against the Europeans that brought over their diseases, and we all know what happened then.

Getting our 2nd daughter vaccinated in Sweden wasn’t a debate or even a question, we just did it.  When you take your child for their “well visits” you don’t see the doctor every time, there are only a handful of appointments where the doctor is present.  The person you go to is called a barnmorska (midwife), you can make appointments to see a doctor but it is not as common in Sweden as the US.  When we had our first appointment, the barnmorska  came to our house when our baby was 1 week old, and at that point she gave us a little booklet that we use to record the measurements, vaccinations, etc. for each appointment.  We did not have a discussion of whether or not we were planning on following the vaccination schedule.  The last well visit we went to, it was advised that our 8 month old daughter should get vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella if we plan on going overseas since there is a recent outbreak.  They don’t usually vaccinate for that over here until the child is 15-18 months, but if there is risk of exposure, a baby can be vaccinated for MMR starting as early as 6 months.

I created this Vaccination Table in excel from the ECDC here comparing vaccinations in the UK and Sweden, and added the US vaccination schedule from the CDC here, and my own shot record from the Michigan Department of Public Health from when I was vaccinated in the 1980s.  My mother told me when I was a baby they didn’t have as many vaccinations recommended, but times and medicine have evolved, for good or bad (I haven’t concluded yet).  The UK’s recommendations are very similar to that of the US; Sweden’s recommendations don’t seem as aggressive, and start vaccinating at 3 months instead of between birth and 2 months.  Again, this all comes down to population and demographics to me, it’s not as simple as looking at the vaccination schedule and saying, “Look, their schedule is different/better than ours”.  It’s up to us as parents to choose whether or not to vaccinate our children – just make sure you’re comfortable with the pros and cons of the choice you make.  We all just want our babies to be happy, healthy, and safe.

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A Tale of Two Granola Bars

It is well known that Europe has stricter food regulations than the USA, which is one of the things I love about now living in Sweden is better food quality.  I feel that consumers in US are guinea pigs with what is allowed in foods with chemicals, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  The thing that blows my mind is that large companies that produce food worldwide have different recipes for the same products in both Europe and the US; It has me questioning why they don’t use that same recipe for both Europe AND the US?!?!?

Here is a small example of the same product in Sweden and the US, Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola Bars.  Dan usually consumed these in large quantities, but when we moved to Sweden we found they did not sell these…until about a month ago.

US Ingredients:  Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Yellow Corn Flour, Honey Soy Flour, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Natural Flavor.

European Ingredients:  Whole grain rolled oats (59%), sugar, sunflower oil, honey (2%), salt, molasses, emulsifier:  sunflower lecithin, raising agent:  sodium bicarbonate.

We all know that corn is a government subsidized crop in the US so that shows up in everything that you can imagine from gasoline to baby formula, so it’s no surprise that corn flour is in the US granola bar.  I did a little bit of research about Sweden subsidizing crops, but couldn’t find anything of the sort, although rapeseed oil shows up in A LOT of foods over here which makes me wonder if that may be government subsidized somehow.  I also find it interesting that in the European ingredients they show the percentage of oats and honey so you can see how much of the granola bar is actually oats.

Dan said it didn’t really taste any different, just the one we got in Sweden seemed to be crumblier.  I also had skittles over here and think they taste similar to the ones in the US, and they do not use artificial food coloring in Europe, I’ll have to buy another bag to share the ingredients with y’all  😉

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The granola bar on the right is from the States and the granola bar on the left is from Sweden.

A Swedish Translation

There are many things different over here than in the States, one of them is the name of favorite childhood characters.  I find it interesting that they don’t call Mickey Mouse or Cinderella the same as in the States; some are the direct translation from English to Swedish, and some just make no sense to me; after collaborating with my dear “Swedish” husband he points out that they are trying to keep the names relative to names that exist in Sweden…

Donald Duck = Kalle Anka

Daisy Duck = Kajsa Anka

Cinderella = Askungen (if you translate the words seperately Ask = Ash and Ungen = Kid)

Bob the Builder = Byggare Bob

Frozen = Frost

Strawberry Shortcake = Jordgubbs Maria (Jordgubbs = Strawberry, I don’t know why they chose Maria instead of shortcake)

Tinkerbell = Tingeling (the sound a bell makes)

Mickey Mouse = Musse Pigg (When translated, Musse translates into nothing and Pigg translates to being alert)

Minnie Mouse = Mimmi Pigg

Pooh Bear = Nalle Puh (Nalle translates to Teddy)

Snow White = Snövit

Superman = Stålmannen

Spongebob Squarepants = Svampbob Fyrkant

Sleeping Beauty = Törnrosa  (Törn translates to thorn)