11, March 2010
According to Cheryl Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, women who eat a full breakfast and a high–fat diet at the time of conception are more likely to have a boy, while a low–fat diet with periods of long fasts favours girls. “High–calorie diets generally favour birth of males over females, whereas low–calorie diets tend to favour females over males,” said Rosenfeld.
The researchers came to the conclusion after analysing the genes in placentas of pregnant mice fed diets high in fat or carbohydrates and low–calorie diets. They found that each one had a distinctive effect compared with a third group given normal soybean meal–based food, the Daily Telegraph reported.
After 12 days – just over half the animals’ pregnancy term – there were differences in almost 2,000 genes including those involved in kidney function and smell, according to the research.
They also found that female foetuses were more sensitive to their mother’s diet and there genes were more likely to be affected or altered. The team concluded that gene expression in the mouse placenta is “adaptive and shaped by maternal diet” with the biggest effect on the placentas of females.