Recent research indicates that the Indian immigrant community may be importing female foeticide into Canada, and a debate is raging within the medical fraternity over whether measures need to be implemented to curb the practice.
The latest data comes from a study conducted by doctors at St Michael's Hospital in Toronto and published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal or CMAJ.
That study used statistics from the province of Ontario and looked at births by the mother's country of origin, using Canadian born mothers as the comparison group.
While for first births, the ratio of male to female births remained almost equal for both groups, the numbers were skewed for subsequent deliveries. Indian-born mothers have 111 sons for every 100 daughters for their second child as against 105 sons for Canadian-born mothers. The number was 136 sons for Indian mothers for the third child while that for Canadian-born women stayed constant.
The report's lead author, Dr Joel Ray, said in an interview: "We can see that after a woman from India has had two previous children, she's significantly more likely to deliver a live born male than a live born female."
In a much debated recent editorial titled "It's A Girl!' could be a death sentence", CMAJ's executive editor Dr Rajendra Kale recommended that pregnant women should not be told the gender of the foetus until the 30th week of pregnancy.
Recent reports, he said in an interview, had validated his argument: "It's a slightly different dataset, so you get the same finding from another source." He's pushing for the 30-week rule, as he said, "Female foeticide begins in the ultrasound room. That where's they find out the sex."
Dr Ray, however, cautions against drawing too many conclusions from initial research as this may do a "disservice to immigrant groups."