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Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy May Depend on Baby's Gender

The Short of It

A new study suggests that the key to carrying a baby boy pregnancy to term is a woman must gain more weight. Not gaining enough could explain some miscarriages.

The Lowdown

A study published in "PLOS One" looked at the relationship between the weight gain of pregnant women and the number of boy births.

Incredibly, endocrinologist Kristen J. Navara of the University of Georgia studied 68 million births over 23 years and concluded that male embryos need a higher caloric intake during gestation to survive. And I thought boys just ate everything in sight after they were born!

Navara found that women who gained less weight during pregnancy tended to have girls, while women who gained more weight—at least 20 pounds—tended to have boys.

When mothers gain 20 pounds, about 49 percent of babies born are male. When mothers gain 40 pounds, 52.5 percent are male. When mothers gain 60 pounds, 54 percent are male.

I gained 35 pounds with each of my three pregnancies, and I have three girls, so go figure!

Navara's research indicates that low caloric intake may be a factor in the loss of male pregnancies. She suggests that gaining enough weight during the first six months of gestation is the critical time period that impacts the survival of a male fetus.

The Upshot

Navara's advice to pregnant women in light of her research is this: "For women who are older, we do tests around 11 weeks to find chromosomal problems, and we incidentally discover the sex. Maybe it's worth doing that for everyone so that we can optimize the conditions necessary to survival."

But not all parents want to find out the sex of their baby. Perhaps the take away here is to focus on eating a healthy diet and gaining enough weight to nourish any developing baby, male or female.

Of course, for many of us, gaining weight during pregnancy is the easiest part!

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