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Choosing genders: Eating for a boy — or a girl

Many families with children of the same sex attempt to round out their families with new children of the opposite sex. The prevailing wisdom is that predetermining the gender of a baby is probably impossible; however, new studies and programs are showing that a woman’s diet can affect the sex of her baby.

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Diet plans

Among the various methods out there purporting to help you choose your baby’s gender is, which claims a 96 percent success rate. The mom-to-be follows the diet appropriate for the appropriate gender for at least four to six weeks prior to her desired month of conception. Once she’s pregnant, she discontinues this diet and follows her physician’s suggestions.

Similarly, a British study funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and covered in The Telegraph found that a woman who eats a heartier breakfast and adds 400 calories to her diet each day (equivalent to an extra meal) may increase her chances of having a boy. The study was conducted on 721 British women who became pregnant for the first time, kept daily food diaries and recorded their general eating habits.

Dr. Jason Rubin is doubtful of the study’s conclusions. “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 emergency medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics and dermatology. “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 will promote 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 a rather spurious association,” he says. Magarelli is the founder and director of Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centers in Colorado Springs and Albuquerque.

The 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 impact 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. Prenatal vitamins with additional folic acid are very important pre-conception.”

Other methods

Rubin suggests using the Shettles method, which entails conception closer 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 slant the odds in favor of one sex or another. “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 to conceive, both doctors agree: The most important thing to keep in mind is the health of your baby, no matter the sex.

Read more:

Chinese gender chart
Timing of pregnancy may predict baby’s gender
Boy or girl? Women having infertility treatments want to choose

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