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Stressed expectant mothers more likely to have girls

A new British study says that a stress-ridden pregnancy can make women more likely to produce girls than boys.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 24, 2007 11:11 IST

Stress throughout pregnancy renders women more likely to give birth to a girl child rather than a boy, according to a new study.

This is the first study to link everyday stress to a baby’s sex.

During the study, the researchers gathered information on stress levels of the mothers of more than 6,000 babies at the start of their pregnancies. The data was gathered on the basis of the women’s sleep quality, confidence and ability to cope with everyday tasks.

Based on the information thus collected, the researchers matched the gender of tots.

It was found that women who were stressed during pregnancy were five per cent more likely to have girls as compared to those deemed relaxed, reports the Daily Mail.

The newspaper report suggests that women in Western nations, including the UK, generally give birth to more boys than girls, with 105 boys typically born for every 100 girls.

Previous research has shown that number of boys being born goes down following major political and social upheaval.

Writing about their findings in the medical journal Human Reproduction, researchers at the University of Denmark said that it was yet to be determined why stress skews the sex ratio of babies born because the gender of a baby depends upon the chromosomes in the father’s sperm.

The researchers, however, said that it was possible that high levels of stress hormones might make it more difficult for male embryos to implant, and stressed women might be more likely to miscarry male babies.

British fertility experts have cautioned that exposure of foetus to stress is associated with health problems later in life, including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

They have also warned that worrying during pregnancy may stunt a child’s intelligence.

First Published: Sep 22, 2007 15:37 IST