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NEW DELHI: In the first such prospective investigation of sex ratio, doctors at Delhi's St. Stephen Hospital -- known for its maternal and child care services -- have noted that evidence from the data of birth from the second children in their hospital indicates that the sex ratio is being manipulated by human interventions.
“More mothers with previous girls tend to use traditional medicines for sex selection in their subsequent pregnancies. Those taking such medication do not seem to be helped according to expectations. They seem to rely on this method and so are less likely to use more definitive methods like sex selective abortions,” said Dr. Jacob M. Puliyel of the Department of Neonatology and Paediatrics at St. Stephen Hospital.
The study titled “Sex Ratio at Birth in India, Its Relation to Birth Order, Sex of Previous Children and Use of Indigenous Medicine” was published in the Public Library of Science.
The data for the study was collected between November 19, 2008, to November 18, 2009, and all mothers of live born babies delivering in hospital were eligible for inclusion.
The primary focus of interest was mothers delivering their second and third babies. The sex of the child at birth, the sex of previous children was recorded. The lady researcher built up a rapport with the mothers and enquired from her if they knew of any methods or drugs used to get babies of a particular sex. They were also asked if they had utilised any of these methods.
As many as 2,773 mothers, who gave birth to singleton babies, participated in the study.
“The sex ratio in the study sample as a whole was 806 girls to 1,000 boys. In primigravida [first-time pregnant] mothers 866 girls were born to every 1,000 boys. The sex ratio was 850:1000 in mothers with one previous child. However, there were only 255 girls to 1,000 boys among mothers delivering their third child. This was significantly different from the overall sex ratio. When looking at the sex ratio in the second babies, taking into account the sex of the first baby, we found that for every 1,000 boys there were only 720 girls if the first was a girl and this rose to 1,017 girls if the first was a boy,'' said Dr. Puliyel.
There were 184 mothers with two previous children, 106 mother had two previous girls, 21 had two previous boys and 57 had each one girl and one boy. If the two previous children were girls, the sex ratio in the present pregnancy was 178 girls to 1000 boys. Those with two previous boys had a sex ratio of 615 girls for 1,000 boys.
The data also showed that among the 1,685 primiparous mothers, only 9 (0.5 per cent) said that they had taken traditional medicine to help them get the baby of a desired sex. However, among 978 mothers with one previous child, 58 (5.9 per cent) of the mothers had taken these medicines and 54 out of 58 were from 510 mothers with a previous girl (10.6 per cent) and four were from 486 mothers with a previous boy (0.8per cent).
Among the 54 with a previous girl child, who had taken medication, there were 26 girls and 28 boys making the sex ratio 928 girls to 1,000 boys. Among 184 mothers with previous two children, 106 had two previous girls and 42 of them had taken medication (39.6 per cent); 21 had two previous boys and of them one had taken medication (4.8 per cent); 57 had one girl and one boy previously, and of them 3 had taken medication (5.3 per cent).
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