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XMFHelical (< 20)

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice - WRONG



June 15, 2008 – Comments (4)

We all know the rhyme.  It is what little girls are made of.  Boys meanwhile get stuck with the nasties - snakes, snails, puppy dog tails.

Well, it just isn't correct.

Recent research titled "You are what your mother eats: evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing foetal sex in humans" has shown that the old saw is exactly backwards.

"Fifty six per cent of women in the highest third of preconceptional energy intake bore boys, compared with 45% in the lowest third. Intakes during pregnancy were not associated with sex, suggesting that the foetus does not manipulate maternal diet. Our results support hypotheses predicting investment in costly male offspring when resources are plentiful. Dietary changes may therefore explain the falling proportion of male births in industrialized countries." 

The article comments that higher energy diets, such as a breakfast of cereals and those high in sugars lead to a higher percentage of boys being born.  Also, diets with more diverse sets of nutrients (which I read as spices), also leads to more boys being born.  What gets you a likelihood of girls, well...poor nutrition apparently.

It is hard not to consider that there may be an evolutionary basis for this.  Societies that are thriving might produce more boys and send them out to expand, while societies that are struggling might produce girls as a way to attempt to increase birthrates in a last ditch effort to propagate the species (maybe - just mentally extrapolating).

So next time you hear that high and mighty rhyme - let them know, they simply have it wrong.

Zz - A Boy and proud of it.

P.S. - I wouldn't call the study either broad or thorough enough to state that the findings are an absolute truth.  It was interesting though and a good start.

P.P.S. - A shoutout.  Blogging from the coffee shop at Jones Farm garden center, Chelmsford MA.  They just put in a WIFI.


4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 15, 2008 at 3:08 PM, LordZ wrote:

Sex of newly conceived, simply depends whether the male y chromosome or another x chromosome sperm is the first to reach the inner egg.

The bad thing is that thru chemical manipulation, pollution, and similiar destructive changes, males aren't what they use to be.

In fact the Y chromosome has been dying. Because of said pollution and destructive forces it isnt uncommon for more xx female offspring to be born as oppossed to xy males, especially among industrialized places.

We are slowly culling more y sperm.


Who knows maybe in the future there may not be a Y chromosome.


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#2) On June 15, 2008 at 4:38 PM, XMFHelical (< 20) wrote:


A number of factors have been found to 'modestly' bias male / female ratios.  Depth and 'pH' (timing) being a couple.

As for the Y chromosome, it is diminishing, but has been for some time.  I'm not ready to concede that environmental factors are having a major effect at this point (if I was an amphibian, it would likely be a different story). But.......

No question as reproductive technology advances, we will be able to do without the man's contribution far sooner than the women's.  So the Y may not be headed to destruction, but obsolescence certainly.


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#3) On June 15, 2008 at 4:47 PM, Tastylunch (28.72) wrote:

This makes sense to me as well as I see how  it could benefit the species by helping maintain genetic diversity in the evolutionary sense.

If one thinks about it, females are more necessary to maintaining population size ( due to reproductive logistics), so If a mother is malnourished then presumably there may not be enough food to go around to sustain the  population. Having a large of females born into the population could help keep the population size stable if the population was experiencing a resource crisis. 

Kinda makes me wonder if America's obession with thin women may be unintentionally feminizing America. :-) 

I have heard also that the later in life a woman has a baby the more likely it is to be a girl as well. 

But you're right on HelicalZz, I wouldn't call studies like this definitive quite yet. Pretty neat stuff.

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#4) On June 15, 2008 at 6:11 PM, XMFHelical (< 20) wrote:

What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Girls are made of sugar 'n spice,

Everything sweet, & everything nice,

Girls are ruffles, bonnets, and bows,

Dimpled smiles and dancing toes,

They're tears and giggles, dolls and curls,

That's how it is with little girls.


What Are Little Boys Made Of?

Boys are mad of chuckles & grins,

Tousled hair and banged-up shins,

Things with wheels & frogs in pockets

Questions, baseball caps, & rockets;

They're joy & mischief, fun & noise-

That's how it is – boys will be boys!

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