A recent news story in The Daily Mail has gotten a lot of attention in recent days. According to a story published in that paper, what a woman eats in the time before conception can influence the gender of the baby.
According to the study, women who eat more food are more likely to have a boy. In particular, eating breakfast increases the chances of having a girl. The story gets even stranger. Eating cereal is the best breakfast food for women wanting to have a son. One or more bowls per day is said to produce the highest number of male babies.
When I first heard this story, my initial reaction was the story had to be fake. The gender of the baby is determined by the X or Y chromosome contributed by the father, not having Lucky Charms for breakfast. The idea that you can eat breakfast, have a boy, wait a few years, skip breakfast and have a girl seems absurd.
So, is this real? Well, the study is real. It was conducted at the University of Exeter. The study looked at 740 women beginning in the 14th week of pregnancy. The women kept food diaries, which were then evaluated by researchers to look for nutritional patterns.
However, the results are highly suspect. The NHS reviewed the study and found some major flaws. The first objection was the data collection. The women were recruited in their 14th week of pregnancy and asked to remember the foods they ate during the year prior to conception.
Whether the women were able to accurately remember their dietary habits in the year before conception is unknown, which makes the results less reliable. In addition, researchers estimated the nutritional content of the women’s diets based on their diaries. There could be discrepancies between these estimates and the actual nutritional intake of the babies.
So the answer to the question is we still don’t know. Before any recommendations can be made, further study would be needed. In future studies, women would need to be recruited before they get pregnant to get better data about their nutritional intake.
In the meantime, don’t run for the cereal aisle, or run away from it, just yet. It remains unlikely that eating or not eating breakfast will have an impact on the gender of your baby. This remains one of nature’s great mysteries. Until the first ultrasound…