Can Your Diet Sway Gender?

Many families with children of the same sex attempt to round out their families with a new child of the opposite sex. Most say it's probably impossible to do anything to sway things one way or another, but some new studies and programs are showing that a woman's diet can affect the sex of her baby.

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The Pre-Conceptional Sex Selection Method ensures a 96 percent success rate with this program, which costs $59, You receive the boy or girl diet program details that you should follow at least four to six weeks prior to your desired month of conception. Once you're pregnant, you discontinue this diet and follow your physician's suggestions.

Research and debate

Similarly, a study in the UK, funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and written about in The Telegraph, indicated that a woman who eats a heartier breakfast and essentially adds 400 calories to her diet each day (equivalent to an extra meal) may increase her chances of having a boy. Whether this is true remains to be seen; the study was conducted on 721 British women who became pregnant for the first time. They kept daily food diaries and recorded their general eating habits. 

Dr. Jason Rubin doesn't think the study's conclusion carries much weight. "There does seem to be some supportive evidence, but the effect was fairly small," he says. Rubin is a board-certified family practitioner with broad experience in many different areas, including emergency medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics and dermatology.

Rubin doesn't believe that you need to change your diet dramatically before looking to get pregnant. "I wouldn’t recommend altering your diet as a method to select the baby’s gender," he says. "Abnormal intake of calories, vitamins or minerals might lead to other problems with conception and early embryonic development, so it's better to concentrate on eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet that promotes the best health of your baby — no matter what the gender is."

Dr. Paul C. Magarelli feels the same way. "Based on my knowledge of biology and genetics, the thought that food would influence which sperm penetrates an egg is rather spurious," he says. Magarelli is the founder and director of Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centers in Colorado Springs and Albuquerque.

Importance of Good Nutrition

Like Rubin, Magarelli says that nutrition is very important before and during pregnancy. "Nutrition plays a paramount role in the health of couples attempting conception," he says. "Alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs affect both sperm and eggs. The role of oxidation in the destruction of sperm has been demonstrated, and antioxidants found in high-quality vitamins are certainly important in sperm health. The eggs are a non-renewable resource, and diet certainly can impact negatively on the egg and the fetus. Prenatal vitamins with additional folic acid are very important pre-conception."

Other methods

So what can be done? For one, you should never follow an unhealthy dieting regimen, they agree. Rubin warns, "Severely malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have problems such as miscarriage, low birthweights and birth defects. Radical weight loss regimens can deplete the body of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes necessary for normal fetal development."

Rubin suggests the Shettles Method, which entails conception close to the time of ovulation for boy babies. "The research behind this method is questionable. Some studies support it, and others show no effect. Whether it works or not, it should be perfectly safe," he says.

Magarelli says two different methods may be able to help. "There are two technologies: sperm sorting (sorting out the X- from the Y-containing sperm) and preimplantation genetic screening of embryos. Both technologies should yield immensely better selection of the desired sex for family balancing."

No matter what method you choose for conception, both doctors agree: The most important thing is the health of the baby.

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