60-Second Science

Diet May Influence Sex of Baby

Women who consumed more calories while pregnant had more males than women on lower-calorie diets. Cynthia Graber reports.

Podcast Transcript: Considering getting pregnant and want to influence whether you have a boy or a girl? According to new research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, you might want to check out your diet. Scientists at the Universities of Exeter and Oxford in England followed 750 first-time pregnant women. The women were asked about their eating habits before and during pregnancy. They were split into three groups based on the sheer number of calories consumed and the healthfulness of their diets.

For the women who consumed more calories and received a wider range of nutrients, 56 percent had boys. This group was also the most likely to eat breakfast. Among the women with the lowest caloric intake, only 45 percent had boys.

The study is the first linking sex determination with diet in humans.  Although it’s been known in some animals that more calories equals more males. And while those of us in the West have plenty of calories available, in the US and UK the boy-to-girl ratio has been slipping. Possibly because mothers are on low-calorie diets or are skipping breakfast.

—Cynthia Graber

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