Mother's diet influences baby's gender

Laura Mappas
Monday, January 4, 2010
Baby's gender influenced by mum's diet. Image: Getty

Research shows that a child's sex is associated with the mother's diet at the time of conception.

A 2008 study from the Universities of Exeter and Oxford in the UK provides evidence that suggests mothers have a natural way of influencing the sex of their unborn baby. The groundbreaking study, which focused on 740 first-time pregnant mothers in the UK, found that consuming a higher energy diet around the time of conception heightens the probability of conceiving a son. These findings not only now make it possible for women to have an effect on the sex of their offspring by changing their diet, but they also help explain the falling birthrate of boys in industrialised countries.

Sugar and spice…
The group of women who took part in the study were split into three groups according to the number of calories they consumed per day around the time of conception. The results showed that 56 percent of the women in the group with the highest energy intake had sons, compared to 45 percent in the group who consumed the lowest energy intake.

As well as consuming more calories, the women who had sons were also more likely to have eaten a higher quantity and wider variety of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12. Even more surprisingly, there was also a link between women who ate breakfast cereals giving birth to more sons. The reason for this? Skipping breakfast depresses glucose levels and IVF research shows that high levels of glucose encourage the growth and development of male embryos while inhibiting the growth and development of female embryos.

Falling birthrate of boys
According to Dr Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter, the lead author, the study highlights the impact dieting has on male and female birthrates. "This research may help to explain why in developed countries, where many young women choose to have low-calorie diets, the proportion of boys is falling."

Conception is the key
This is good news for prospective parents who are hoping for a particular sex, but note that the calorie-counting trick doesn't work during pregnancy — diet only has an influence on the sex of your baby around the time of conception.

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