A baby boom is sweeping sparsely populated Sweden, reversing a decadeslong trend that threatened to make the Swedes an endangered species.

Latest figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show the 1987 Swedish birthrate was one of the highest in Europe, and preliminary 1988 figures show that babies are arriving at an unprecedented rate.Sweden's current 1.8 percent birthrate, although modest compared with the Third World, is now higher than that of France, West Germany or Italy.

In Europe, only Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland have higher rates than Sweden, according to the bureau.

"It's a baby boom and it almost looks like a fashion trend," said Hans Lundstrom, the bureau's family expert. "The birthrate also seems to have a snowball effect, as more children are seen in society today."