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Baby's sex link to mother's diet

23rd April 2008

Research has suggested that the type of food a woman eats at the time of conception could have an influence over the sex of her baby.

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A study by researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford indicates that a high calorie diet and regular breakfast could increase the odds of the baby being a boy.

Writing in the Royal Society journal Biological Sciences, the researchers say one reason why the proportion of boys is falling in developed countries may be as a result of the growing trend to opt for low calorie diets. There is also a reduction in the average energy intake and more people missing out breakfast altogether.

The research teams asked 740 first-time pregnant mothers in the UK to provide records of their eating habits before and during the early stages of pregnancy. They found 56% of women with the highest energy intake around the time of conception had boys, compared to just 45% among women with the lowest energy intake.

Women who had sons were also more likely to have eaten a higher quantity and wider range of nutrients such as potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12 and eaten breakfast cereals.

Fertility expert Dr Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield said there was good evidence that nature had subtle ways of changing the sex ratio of a population in response to a variety of circumstances. But he said he would urge women to not to starve themselves in order to try influence the gender of their baby.

 

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