Entirely believe the what, it’s the why…..

A new study found would-be mothers who feel overwhelmed or depressed are at greater risk of suffering a miscarriage if they are pregnant with a boy.

Scientists at Columbia University in New York said that, in many cases, women will not yet have realised they have conceived when the pregnancy fails due to stress.

The team correlated birth outcomes in a group of 187 pregnant women with 27 indicators of psychosocial, physical and lifestyle stress.

They noted that the boy-to-girl ratio in women who were physically stressed was 4:9, and 2:3 in women who were psychologically stressed.

This is compared to 105:100 boy-girl ration across the whole population.

Published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study appears to explain longstanding trends showing an increase in births of girls relative to boys following national traumas, such as 9/11, the assination of JFK and various earthquakes.

The researchers believe the phenomenon may be explained by the fact male foetuses take longer to complete their early developmental stages, leaving them more vulnerable to sub-optimal conditions in the womb.

Sure. And we see much the same, tho’ stronger, in times of real stress like near famine. Male female ratio at conception stays the same. Girl ratio at birth soars. There’s selective abortion (not, perhaps, spontaneous as it’s being caused, but not consciously) going on. Even if it’s abortion by unthinking hormones rather than adult human action.

The argument deployed. Children born after a pregnancy at a time of stress are usually smaller. Assuming that the stress lasts for some time they’ll also be nutritionally deficient during childhood – the chances of stunting rise.

Male children who grow up runty lose out in the having grandchildren stakes. Female children, assuming that times aren’t so hard that the plumbing still works, will still have those grandchildren even if runty.

The aim of life is grandchildren. Thus, selective abortion of male foeti in times of stress. Why bother to invest in what won’t produce the point of the exercise? Clear it out and start again, better luck next time.

We’re really pretty sure this is true of famine and near. So, why not with other forms of stress?

BTW, this is also used as the reason for Downs rising with maternal age. It’s not eggs decaying. Rather, when there’s plenty of time for another conception why not clear out the near failure. But when this might well be the last one then why not carry on?

13 comments on “Entirely believe the what, it’s the why…..

  1. ISTR that a long time ago research in to this phenomena claimed it was to do with male stress. For some reason I remember them quoting fighter pilots and astronauts as having stressful jobs fathering and increase in gril:boy ratio. I suppose dangerous and stressful male jobs also puts stress on women.

  2. Your hypothesis is consistent with the Selfish Gene hypothesis from before Richard Dawkins went loony.

  3. Sort-of possibly related: apparently women are at higher risk of postnatal depression when they have boys.

    No idea what’s going on there (they don’t start smearing their own poo on the walls till toddlerhood), but thank God or Darwin that you’re a bloke. Women are far more courageous in their own way than we’ll ever be.

    MB –
    Bring forth men children only, for thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males

  4. Or, if you need to go into an increased replacement mode, then first off you need lots of women as carriers, not so much men (9 months versus 2 minutes etc)?

  5. Problem: I’ve never met a pregnant woman who wasn’t stressed.

    Problem (2): quantification of stress is virtually impossible.

    Problem (3): sex is determined by which male gene wins the race to the egg. Are they proposing that the egg makes a rational choice? An intelligent egg? And how does it know an X fishy from a Y fishy?

  6. Too many assumptions and extrapolations being made without any means of validating them.

    Multiple variables: choosing one because it provides the preferred explanation and ‘we can’t think of another cause’, is the base for much ‘science’ today readily apparent in the climate change fraud.

  7. So if I want a boy, I should psychologically stress my wife? I’ll tell her she’s reached the credit card limit half-way through the month. That ought to do it.

  8. Sorry, I got distracted by the typos.

    “Ratio” is correct in one sentence, it morphs into “ration” in the next
    “They noted that the boy-to-girl ratio in women who were physically stressed was 4:9, and 2:3 in women who were psychologically stressed.

    “This is compared to 105:100 boy-girl ration across the whole population.”

    And everybody knows that John Kennedy wasn’t assinated, whatever that is.

    “Published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study appears to explain longstanding trends showing an increase in births of girls relative to boys following national traumas, such as 9/11, the assination of JFK and various earthquakes.”

    It’s almost as if The Telegraph hired all the redundant Guardian sub editors.

  9. A foetus is a foreign body (half way) or transplant. It needs protecting against the mother’s immune system. This, if my biology is correct, is done by the placenta.
    So it might be possible to study the placentas of spontaneously aborted / rejected tissue afterbirth to quantify the difference between failed pregnancies and pregnancies to term.

    (er… placentae? my Latin isn’t recent either)

  10. STR that a long time ago research in to this phenomena claimed it was to do with male stress. For some reason I remember them quoting fighter pilots and astronauts as having stressful jobs fathering and increase in gril:boy ratio. I suppose dangerous and stressful male jobs also puts stress on women.

    The fighter pilot thing was due to breathing higher levels of carbon dioxide. Male-bearing sperm are weakened relative to the opposition by the slight increase in blood acidity, apparently.

  11. Miscarriage is waste of resources, thus some animals have evolved further – Pandas & ‘Roos reabsorb their foetus if current conditions are bleak

    On males, of course – one male can fertilise nine women – nine babies. Nine males can fertilise one woman – one baby.

    Scientists at Columbia University wasting money on studying what we know – is Uni USA’s UEA?

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