Of boys and baby blues

Updated on Feb 14, 2008 05:57 PM IST

Women giving birth to a male child are at greater risk of post-natal depression than those who have girls, says study.

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PTI | By, London

Mothers who see their boys as "more difficult" are supported by a fascinating new research which suggests that women giving birth to a male child are at greater risk of post-natal depression than those who have girls. The study was carried out in a French community where women faced no cultural pressures over the sex of their baby.

In most Asian societies, however, having a female baby has been linked to depression due to the cultural preference for a male child. The latest study at the University of Nancy, France, examined 181 mothers, and found 9 per cent had severe depression - three-quarters of these had delivered a male child.

The researchers, led by Professor Claude de Tychey, found that seven out of ten women who had given birth to a boy reported a lower quality of life compared with the average of women who had given birth to a girl, regardless of whether they had postnatal depression.

"The overwhelming finding of the study was the fact that gender appears to play a significant role in reduced quality of life as well as an increased chance of severe postnatal depression," Professor de Tychey was quoted as saying by the BBC.

The study, published in the February issue of Journal of Clinical Nursing, says the suffering of mothers of boys could be based on their attitudes towards the men in their lives.

The negative attitude to a son might be a legacy of unsatisfactory relationships with important male figures in their life, such as their father, or husband. There was also the possibility that male babies are seen by present day mothers as "more difficult", the report said.

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