Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Prognosticating Birth Sex

"It [blood pressure readings] suggests that a woman's blood pressure before pregnancy is a previously unrecognized factor that is associated with her likelihood of delivering a boy or a girl."
"When a woman becomes pregnant, the sex of a fetus is determined by whether the father's sperm provides an X or Y chromosome and there is no evidence this probability varies."
"What is believed to vary is the proportion of male or female fetuses lost during pregnancy. This study suggests that either lower blood pressure is indicative of a mother's physiology that is less conducive to survival of a male fetus, or that higher blood pressure before pregnancy is less conducive to survival of a female fetus."
"This novel insight may hold implications for both reproductive planning and our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the sex ratio in humans."
Ravi Retnakaran, endocrinologist, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto
The study was unclear about whether a woman could influence the sex by deliberately raising or lowering her blood pressure Istock

"We have been aware that more male fetuses miscarry than females. There is also some evidence that you are more likely to miscarry a boy when you are compromised either by health or environmental issues. So I suppose, blood pressure changes in these circumstances might affect the conception of different sexes."
Charles Kingsland, fertility expert, Liverpool Women's Hospital, Great Britain

Finally, it seems possible that women can go beyond hoping or attempting to predict whether they will carry a male or female fetus to childbirth. It seems feasible, resulting from conclusions reached in a newly published study, that if a woman can control her blood pressure she has the key to unlocking the mystery of whether a boy or girl child will be produced from her womb. The research team from Mount Sinai Hospital found evidence to suggest that women with lower blood pressure tended to give birth to girls while those with higher blood pressure, birthed boys.

The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, indicated that higher systolic (maximum) blood pressure augurs a girl baby; while on the other hand, mean systolic blood pressure for women with boys was 106 mm G, as opposed to 103mm Hg, resulting in the birth of boys. The readings were taken in the months leading up to actual conception.

Over 1,400 newly married women in China agreed to participate in the study. The women were planning pregnancies and their blood pressure was noted at roughly 26 weeks before conception, then they were tracked from that point forward through their pregnancies. Adjustment was made for age, education, smoking, Body Mass Index, waist circumference, cholesterol and tryglyceride levels and glucose. Subsequently, mean systolic blood pressure predating pregnancy was discovered to be more elevated in women who gave birth to boys over those who eventually delivered a girl baby.

Should women in the final analysis, be able to control the sex of the fetus they are carrying, the positive impact would be in those societies where cultural attachment is to the birth of boy babies, rendering gendercide, where the practise of destroying girl babies takes place, a discarded cultural artefact. Needless to say, planning and carrying out a protocol that assures the birth of boy babies over that of girls, would do nothing to solve the dilemma that China now finds itself in, with too many young man fruitlessly looking for wives in a gender imbalance that hadn't been anticipated.

And, as usual in new scientific findings, there will always be skeptics, those in the scientific community among whom doubt lingers along with an unwillingness to accept a new theory whether or not sufficient evidence exists for it to be persuasive. "I would be very surprised that a BP measurement, which is notoriously variable, could dictate sex 26 weeks before [birth]", dismissively commented Geoffrey Trew, a consultant in reproductive medicine at Hammersmith Hospital, London, casting aspersions on the new, ground-breaking insight.

birth It may be possible to predict a baby's gender even before conception. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

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