Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Eat More Cheerios, Have More Sons

DiscoblogBy Melissa LafskyApril 22, 2008 11:35 PM
istock_000005361211xsmall.JPG

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

A new study by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford, published today in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

found the first clear link between a mother's diet and the sex of her baby. The research team took 740 first-time pregnant mothers in the U.K., none of whom knew their child's sex, and had each mother record her diet before and directly after getting pregnant. Of the women who consumed the "highest energy intake"—which included the most calories and the widest range of nutrients including potassium, calcium, and vitamins C, E and B12—56 percent conceived sons, compared to 45 percent of the lowest intake group. One surprising note: A "strong correlation" was found between eating breakfast cereals and producing boys. These results are in line with recent studies finding that boys are born more frequently to wealthier mothers, as well as to mothers with higher testosterone levels. So why would a woman need more nutrition, wealth and aggression to bear and raise boys, who are traditionally the harbingers of greater physical strength and capacity for resource-gathering? Dr. Fiona Mathews, the paper's lead author, offered this explanation:

Potentially, males of most species can father more offspring than females, but this can be strongly influenced by the size or social status of the male, with poor quality males failing to breed at all. Females, on the other hand, reproduce more consistently. If a mother has plentiful resources then it can make sense to invest in producing a son because he is likely to produce more grandchildren than would a daughter. However, in leaner times having a daughter is a safer bet.

Or it could just be a severe lack of Wheaties.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In