Want a baby boy? Then eat breakfast
• Skipping meals makes would-be mothers less likely to give birth to a son
• Women who work or lift a lot may struggle to get pregnant
MORE reasons are emerging why women should eat breakfast. Scientists claim women hoping to give birth to boys should make sure they get a proper breakfast. Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois, United States, say it could be down to lower levels of glucose in the blood, affecting male foetuses more than female.
A study suggests that mothers who skip breakfast around the time they conceive only have 45 per cent likelihood of having a male child – compared to the usual 51 per cent It is already known that in times of disaster – such as earthquakes, floods and wars – fewer boys are born than girls.
The latest study, which was reported in the journal Biodemography And Social Biology, aimed to establish whether skipping breakfast would create similar stress conditions.
The team looked at data from over 700,000 women in the US and found that if they missed morning meals early in pregnancy, it tipped the ratio of male to female births from the usual 51-49.
Meanwhile, a United States (U.S.) study suggests that women who work more than 40 hours a week or routinely lift heavy loads may take longer to get pregnant than women who don’t.
Researchers followed 1,739 nurses who were trying to get pregnant and estimated 16 percent of them failed to achieve this goal within 12 months, and five percent still hadn’t conceived after two years.
Working more than 40 hours a week was linked with taking 20 percent longer to get pregnant compared to women who worked 21 to 40 hours.
Moving or lifting at least 25-pound loads several times a day was also tied to delayed pregnancy, extending the time to conception by about 50 percent. The study was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Lead study author Audrey Gaskins, a researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, United States, noted by email: “Our results show that heavy work, both in terms of physical strain and long hours, appears to have a detrimental impact on female nurses’ ability to get pregnant.”
Most healthy couples can conceive within three to six months, though the process can take longer for people who are older or who have fertility compromised by certain medical conditions or by smoking or excessive drinking.
For the current study, Gaskins and colleagues reviewed data on women participating in a nationwide survey of nurses between 2010 and 2014 who at some point said they were trying to conceive.
Half of the women were at least 33 years old, about 44 percent were overweight or obese and 22 percent were current or former smokers. The majority of the women worked exclusively days or nights, though 16 percent of them had rotating shifts at different times.
About one third of the women were on their feet for at least eight hours a day, and 40 percent reported lifting heavy loads up to five times a daily.
Frequency of night shifts or the duration of rotating or non-rotating evening work wasn’t linked to the time it took women to conceive, the study found.
When researchers excluded women who had irregular menstrual cycles, which can independently impair fertility, they still found that heavy lifting was linked to a 33 percent longer timeline to conception.
The impact of heavy lifting was also more pronounced for overweight and obese women. It’s possible that certain working conditions might make pregnancy more likely, and it’s also possible that women who struggle to get pregnant may choose to work longer hours, the researchers acknowledge in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
There also may be a much simpler explanation for the delayed times to conception for women who work more or come home more physically exhausted from lifting multiple heavy loads, said Courtney Lynch, a specialist in reproductive health at Ohio State University in Columbus. “If this effect is real, it is likely due to the fact that these women are having less frequent intercourse due to their work demands,” Lynch, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
Couples who want to get pregnant faster should have sex at least twice a week, and not only on weekends, she advised. Women should also maintain a healthy weight, get enough exercise and avoid smoking and stress.
When women struggle to conceive, they may consider using devices that help track ovulation, Lynch added. Often sold as fertility monitors, some of these devices pinpoint ovulation by testing urine for spikes in certain hormones during that time of the month.