Women are more likely to give birth to boys if they're eating a high-calorie diet shortly before becoming pregnant, according to scientists from Oxford and Exeter universities.
In this new study, 740 healthy women who were pregnant for the first time were asked about their eating patterns in the year before they conceived. The women were divided into high, medium and low caloric intake groups.
Over half of women in the high-calorie group gave birth to boys, compared with 45 percent in the lower calorie group. The extra calories seemed to come from breakfast cereal; nearly 60 percent of the women who had boys ate cereal everyday, compared with only 43 percent of women who had girls.
Specific minerals were also linked to a greater possibility of conceiving a boy. In particular, a high potassium intake was associated with having a boy - as was a high sodium and calcium intake.
While this study presents theories as to why there may be fewer boys born to women who eat fewer calories and specific nutrients, this area of research is still in its infancy. Women should not deliberately increase intake of sodium or any one nutrient in the hopes of giving birth to a boy, warn the study authors.
Women of child-bearing age are advised to follow a healthy diet that includes 7 to 8 servings of potassium-rich vegetables and fruits and two servings of calcium-rich milk products. High sodium foods like canned soup, chips and pizza should be avoided.
For more nutrition strategies for pregnancy, check out Leslie Beck's Nutrition Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
This study appeared in today's Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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