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Certain foods may influence the sex of offspring


London : Eating certain foods in the run up to conception may influence the sex of a woman’s offspring, suggests a new study conducted on mice.

The new study may give credence to common belief that expecting mothers who want a boy should eat more red meat and salty snacks and fish, vegetables, chocolates and sweets if they want a girl.

Lead researcher Elissa Cameron and colleagues at the University of Pretoria in South Africa examined how changes in diet might influence sex ratios – the proportion of males to females in a population.

For this, they altered the levels of blood sugar in female mice during conception, by feeding the mice a steroid called dexamethasone (DEX) – a steroid which inhibits the transport of glucose into the bloodstream.

The scientists gave 20 female mice water dosed with DEX during conception. They gave it during the first three days when the females were exposed to males.

Afterwards, the mice were given plain water. The researchers measured the blood-sugar levels of these mice, as well as that of 20 controlled females several times during the experiment.

The average blood-glucose levels in mice that received steroid dropped from 6.47 to 5.24 millimoles/litre.

The team found that 53 percent of the pups born to the control females mice were male whereas only 41 percent of those born to the mice receiving DEX were male, reported the online edition of New Scientist.

However, the scientists said exactly how a drop in blood sugar causes more female births remains unclear. But the opposite also seems to work.

A previous study involving diabetic mice, found that rodents with high blood sugar levels produced more male offspring than expected.