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Old 04-22-2008, 09:31 PM
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You are what your mother eats: influencing your baby's gender

I just saw this in the news:
CTV.ca | Women who eat more at conception tend to have boys

Interesting......how does this compare to your own experiences?
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:38 PM
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Fewer boys are being born in industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdon, the United States and Canada. At the same time, the average caloric intake in these countries has declined, and more people are skipping breakfast.
do twinkies and ding dongs count as breakfast?

That is really IMO not enough evidence to prove any relationship between the two variables. Each child you have is independent of each other (obviously), so having three boys is just as probable as having three girls. Okay, the difference is like 51-49 I think, but nothing substantial. I don't know that I believe it, until they can honestly find something (a gene? developing chromosome?) to substantiate this claim.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:44 PM
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Yeah, CTV always tries to find some quirky thing to end the night with.

I wonder how the "study" compares to third-world countries, where low-caloric diets are endemic...?
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:51 PM
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well, I also would not say that the US is a 'low-caloric' country. Um, have you seen our obesity rates?!
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:57 PM
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I don't believe this for a second! Eating more gives you boys? err...
I think it is a little more complex than that... and since when has 56% been regarded as statistically significant?
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:42 AM
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I don't believe it, lol. This was a one time experiment only, so they need to perform various and different types of experiments to prove their point. At this point, they are only providing assumptions; not enough evidence.
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:30 AM
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It sounds like a bunch of BS to me. I eat a healthy amount of food for my stature, never skip breakfast, and have five going on six girls.

Let's go back to bio 101; the man determines the gender of the baby. Thee may be a small correlation between a woman's pH balance and favorability in the birth canal for one gender versus the other, but this theory is weak at best. Just another way if blaming the woman for everything, LOL

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Last edited by Dojoqueen; 04-23-2008 at 10:16 AM. Reason: spelling; i typed this at 3:30 a.m. lol
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:33 AM
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I think this story is false. There is not enough concrete evidence to prove their theory.
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:09 PM
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I don't know, I think it could be valid. They had a sample size of 740 that's decent. Also the 56% is compared to the 45% so it is the difference that they are comparing to 0 to determine statistical significance - a difference of 11%. I think that it's decently documented that girl babies are hardier than boy babies. It's still in the sperm, the article is just saying that lower caloric diets are less "ideal" for a weaker baby (ie boy baby).

I think to look at this in the developing world your baseline is just lower. You have lower overall caloric intake (perhaps) and so a decrease in conception or ability to carry a pregnancy to term, if you are pregnant with either gender, probably occurs. But I don't know. I'm sure there are lots of other factors involved - but it's always amazing to me how little we actually know about reproduction.

For me personally, I have a girl, I am not a great eater. I can't eat a ton of calories to stay at my size - I have to monitor my eating quite closely, perhaps I just created a womb that was "unwelcoming" to y chromosomes with all of my attention to calorie limitation!

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Old 04-23-2008, 07:00 PM
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I would like to see the full report, stats, methodology, etc, but I can already basically tell this is a completely flawed study. First off, they are asking people to recall events from who knows how long ago. Do YOU remember how many calories you ate on November 16th? This is unreliable data. There is no control group whatsoever obviously. There are a million possible confounds. And I bet if you look at their data/standard deviation, that is not a statistically significant difference too
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by idalis View Post
I would like to see the full report, stats, methodology, etc, but I can already basically tell this is a completely flawed study. First off, they are asking people to recall events from who knows how long ago. Do YOU remember how many calories you ate on November 16th? This is unreliable data. There is no control group whatsoever obviously. There are a million possible confounds. And I bet if you look at their data/standard deviation, that is not a statistically significant difference too
I just read the journal article out of curiosity. They used Food Diaries, which are the same thing that was used in the US Nurses Health Study, which I have read about many time, and they have proved fairly reliable, even though they require recollection. Also, this type of data they collected (observed counts vs expected counts) would need to be analyzed as a chi-squared distribution, so there is no control group. Their p values for many of their parameters were statistically significant.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:33 PM
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^ LINK if you want to read it. Skip to section 2 for the methods....the intro is full of rabblings.

It would be important to know if the study design asked these questions that they are answering, or if they tried to mine their numbers for results because that would make everything invalid right off. Basically the sample group is 740 non-obese white women from a specific hospital in southern England, who were pregnant with their first child. So first, they can only tie the results to this demographic.
Since they are asking for retrospective account of what they ate, I agree it's highly suspect. I didn't notice that before, although I thought it was weird that women who gave birth to boys ate higher-calorie diets pre-conception compared to early pregnancy. Maybe the study should put in a caveat that women carrying male fetuses have worse memories during early pregnancy???
Also, using the chi-squared stat test might not be the best choice...I didn't look too closely, so I might be interpreting it wrong but ...chi-squared distribution wouldn't accurately describe gender outcome - which is binomial, one or the other, no shades of grey and no "distribution", at least for the purpose of this study. Although stats on flawed data is pretty worthless, anyways.

If anything, this shows that you should take anything you read, scientific studies and the latest health reports included, with a grain of salt.

I just thought it was funny, because all of my cousins are female on one side, and mostly male on the other.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:36 PM
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The child's sex is strictly chromosomal, just like missmk said. That research is strictly "coincidental" IMO.

EDIT TO ADD: Shana, your family makeup is crazy! All guys on one side and all girls on the other! Wow!
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:38 PM
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Also, this type of data they collected (observed counts vs expected counts) would need to be analyzed as a chi-squared distribution, so there is no control group. Their p values for many of their parameters were statistically significant.
I'm not used to lack of control groups...can't remember how to use chi-squared!
But the cereal thing is weird/interesting.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Dojoqueen View Post
It sounds like a bunch of BS to me. I eat a healthy amount of food for my stature, never skip breakfast, and have five going on six girls.

Let's go back to bio 101; the man determines the gender of the baby. Thee may be a small correlation between a woman's pH balance and favorability in the birth canal for one gender versus the other, but this theory is weak at best. Just another way if blaming the woman for everything, LOL

I call
5 stars! Thank you. Don't believe everything you hear or read! Even professors are wrong sometimes. This is total BS and a piss poor use of "research" ability. Many studies can be interpreted in a way that best fits the researchers leans and must be taken with a grain of salt...such as in this case. There is nothing you can tell me to make be believe that this "research" is even anywhere CLOSE to credible.


NEXT!
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by lawgal2002 View Post
EDIT TO ADD: Shana, your family makeup is crazy! All guys on one side and all girls on the other! Wow!
Only in North America though! Although I have a lot of cousins.. It's more evenly distributed overseas....
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:40 PM
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I can remember quite well that I did not eat much on that faithful day. lol
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ShanaG View Post
^ LINK if you want to read it. Skip to section 2 for the methods....the intro is full of rabblings.

It would be important to know if the study design asked these questions that they are answering, or if they tried to mine their numbers for results because that would make everything invalid right off. Basically the sample group is 740 non-obese white women from a specific hospital in southern England, who were pregnant with their first child. So first, they can only tie the results to this demographic.
Since they are asking for retrospective account of what they ate, I agree it's highly suspect. I didn't notice that before, although I thought it was weird that women who gave birth to boys ate higher-calorie diets pre-conception compared to early pregnancy. Maybe the study should put in a caveat that women carrying male fetuses have worse memories during early pregnancy???
Also, using the chi-squared stat test might not be the best choice...I didn't look too closely, so I might be interpreting it wrong but ...chi-squared distribution wouldn't accurately describe gender outcome - which is binomial, one or the other, no shades of grey and no "distribution", at least for the purpose of this study. Although stats on flawed data is pretty worthless, anyways.

If anything, this shows that you should take anything you read, scientific studies and the latest health reports included, with a grain of salt.

I just thought it was funny, because all of my cousins are female on one side, and mostly male on the other.

They aren't modeling gender - they are evaluating independence. Chi-square test is the appropriate technique to use in my opinion. If they were predicting gender based on individual characteristics then they should have used binomial but that's not what they were doing. They are just looking at association.

Statistics are all approximations though anyway. A p-value of 5% still says that a different relationship is possible. After all what the heck does it mean to say that something will happen 95% of the time.

Unless the study is a designed experiment there isn't a control group. That's very common in retrospective cohort studies.

Last edited by mimismama; 04-23-2008 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:47 PM
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ShanaG View Post
^ LINK if you want to read it. Skip to section 2 for the methods....the intro is full of rabblings.

It would be important to know if the study design asked these questions that they are answering, or if they tried to mine their numbers for results because that would make everything invalid right off. Basically the sample group is 740 non-obese white women from a specific hospital in southern England, who were pregnant with their first child. So first, they can only tie the results to this demographic.
Since they are asking for retrospective account of what they ate, I agree it's highly suspect. I didn't notice that before, although I thought it was weird that women who gave birth to boys ate higher-calorie diets pre-conception compared to early pregnancy. Maybe the study should put in a caveat that women carrying male fetuses have worse memories during early pregnancy???
Also, using the chi-squared stat test might not be the best choice...I didn't look too closely, so I might be interpreting it wrong but ...chi-squared distribution wouldn't accurately describe gender outcome - which is binomial, one or the other, no shades of grey and no "distribution", at least for the purpose of this study. Although stats on flawed data is pretty worthless, anyways.

If anything, this shows that you should take anything you read, scientific studies and the latest health reports included, with a grain of salt.

I just thought it was funny, because all of my cousins are female on one side, and mostly male on the other.
Your only valid critique is that the women were giving retrospective reports of their diet.

Your critique about them extrapolating their results doesn't carry weight because without extrapolation, the field of epidemiology would not exist. Nonetheless, it's important not to overstate claims. Looking at just the title of their article indicates that their study simply provides evidence for their theory: "You are what your mother eats: evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing foetal sex in humans"

A chi-squared tests is valid in this case as it tests a hypothesis by comparing actual data to theoretically expected data. So, they compared the 56%/44% figure to the theoretical 50%/50% figure.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:53 PM
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If kids really are what their mom's eat my daughter would be a Pig Sandwich from The Hard Rock Cafe, an Iced Mocha from Starbucks and a Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel from Auntie Anne's. My son would be an Italian!
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mimismama View Post
They aren't modeling gender - they are evaluating independence. Chi-square test is the appropriate technique to use in my opinion. If they were predicting gender based on individual characteristics then they should have used binomial but that's not what they were doing. They are just looking at association.

Statistics are all approximations though anyway. A p-value of 5% still says that a different relationship is possible. After all what the heck does it mean to say that something will happen 95% of the time.

Unless the study is a designed experiment there isn't a control group. That's very common in retrospective cohort studies.
Thank you, I am weak in stats..

I can't imagine a control group -- if the investigators had the mothers follow specific diets and calorie intake was found to influenced gender....I don't know how happy the mothers would be!
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by lawgal2002 View Post
The child's sex is strictly chromosomal, just like missmk said. That research is strictly "coincidental" IMO.
Not necessarily, sex determination also is regulated by epigenetics, so it's not as simple as randomly starting out with an X or a Y
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:04 PM
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Thank you, I am weak in stats..

I can't imagine a control group -- if the investigators had the mothers follow specific diets and calorie intake was found to influenced gender....I don't know how happy the mothers would be!

He He!! I have an MA in Stat and a Master's of Public Health in Biostat!

My dissertation is focused on women's reproductive health choices! I love statistics! I also have a job interview on Thursday so I am using this thread to practice my "know-it-allness" that I should have as an *almost* PhD!
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Imhotep View Post
Your only valid critique is that the women were giving retrospective reports of their diet.

Your critique about them extrapolating their results doesn't carry weight because without extrapolation, the field of epidemiology would not exist. Nonetheless, it's important not to overstate claims. Looking at just the title of their article indicates that their study simply provides evidence for their theory: "You are what your mother eats: evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing foetal sex in humans"

A chi-squared tests is valid in this case as it tests a hypothesis by comparing actual data to theoretically expected data. So, they compared the 56%/44% figure to the theoretical 50%/50% figure.

Fair enough. I'm not too familiar with epidemiological methods, so thanks for educating me.

--
I wonder if the use of the Pill in industrialized countries contributes to decreasing % male babies, with the excess estrogen floating around (i.e. in our water supply). Although there's also rampant steroid use in the food industry to counter it...
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