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Health & Pregnancy

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Deciding Baby's Sex

Can diet, timing, and changing body chemistry really determine the sex of your baby?

Proponents of Low-Tech Methods

Combining techniques can give better results, says M. Jericho Banks, PhD, a partner and owner of Gen Select, a preconception sex selection method sold online.

By adjusting the body chemistry to be more acidic or more alkaline, he says, couples can boost the chances of conceiving their preferred sex.

For instance, his company advises those who want a girl to avoid salt and eat a lot of protein. "It falls in line with the recent study," he says.

"A lot can help," Banks contends. Making the vaginal environment and body chemistry "more hospitable" to one or the other type of sperm can influence conception, he says.

Hazards of Sex Selection?

The dietary changes seem harmless, according to Frieder. But nutritionists caution women not to skimp on calories or nutrients in the hopes of conceiving a girl, based on the recent study.

But the method that suggests having intercourse before or after ovulation, depending on whether a boy or a girl is preferred, may actually reduce the chances of getting pregnant at all, Frieder says, if couples miscalculate their ovulation.

In general, the overall chance of getting pregnant each month is fairly low, he says. "There is a 20% chance of getting pregnant in one menstrual cycle if the sex is at the perfect ovulation time," Frieder says. If the intercourse occurs earlier or later, the odds of getting pregnant could decline, he says.

As for the suggestion to douche, Frieder advises not. "They could be caustic to the sperm."

But in general, most of the low-tech methods to influence a baby's sex seem harmless, even if they don't work, Frieder says. "It gives couples something to do while they are waiting to get pregnant."

Allyson A. Gonzalez, MD, another gynecologist at Santa Monica-UCLA & Orthopaedic Hospital, agrees. Old wives' tales may deserve respect, she says, even if they aren't backed by scientific proof. "Old wives tales don't come from nowhere," she says. If a method won't harm parents-to-be or the unborn baby, she says, she doesn't discourage it. But she cautions couples not to count on any of the methods working.

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Reviewed on April 28, 2008

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