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Health & Pregnancy

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Predicting Your Baby's Sex

How well can rings, dreams, or countenance foretell boy or girl? Some people swear by old wives' tales as foolproof methods for pregnancy prognostication.

WebMD Feature

Grandparents, mothers-in-law, bookstore clerks, the woman in line behind you at the grocery store -- if you're pregnant, everyone wants to guess whether you're going to have a boy or a girl. Many of them claim to have a "foolproof method" to figure out whether you'll be painting the nursery pink or blue.

"A gas station attendant told me I was having a girl because my face looked smiley," recalls literature professor Talia Schaffer, whose first baby, born in May, was indeed a girl. "He said with a boy, the mother's face looked tired! Someone else also predicted a girl because I was carrying low. Lots of people told us their guesses, and weirdly enough, everyone guessed correctly that it was a girl."

Although Schaffer's fortunetellers all proved accurate, that was probably just luck. In a study published in the journal Birth in September 1999, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health researchers asked 104 pregnant women to guess their baby's sex, using whatever method they liked, whether it was hunches, dreams, or rings on a string. The women were right 55% of the time, or about what you could expect from random guesses.

But just to throw a little confusion into the mix, the study also found the mothers-to-be who had the highest levels of education (12 years or more) were far more accurate, predicting their baby's sex correctly 71% of the time. These women most often based their gender predictions on dreams or feelings, and those were the ones that proved most prophetic.

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