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Mothers Diet Influences Infant Sex: High Energy Intake Linked To Conception Of Sons

Mothers Diet Influences Infant Sex: High Energy Intake Linked To Conception Of Sons

ScienceDaily (Apr. 23, 2008) - New research by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford provides the first evidence that a child's sex is associated with the mother's diet.

The study shows a clear link between higher energy intake around the time of conception and the birth of sons. The findings may help explain the falling birth-rate of boys in industrialised countries, including the UK and US.

The study focused on 740 first-time pregnant mothers in the UK, who did not know the sex of their fetus. They were asked to provide records of their eating habits before and during the early stages of pregnancy. They were then split into three groups according to the number of calories consumed per day around the time they conceived.

56% of the women in the group with the highest energy intake at conception had sons, compared with 45% in the lowest group. As well as consuming more calories, women who had sons were more likely to have eaten a higher quantity and wider range of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12. There was also a strong correlation between women eating breakfast cereals and producing sons.

Although sex is genetically determined by fathers, mothers therefore appear able to favour the development of one sex of infant rather than another. In humans, skipping breakfast depresses glucose levels and so may be interpreted by the body as indicating poor environmental conditions and low food availability.