Eat Contaminated Fish, Give Birth
Study Finds PCB Levels Affect Baby's Gender
The Milwaukee Channel
If you're a pregnant woman who has eaten large amounts
of contaminated fish, you might want to focus on picking
a girl's name.
A study published in a recent issue of Environmental Health:
A Global Access Science Source found that women exposed
to polychlorinated biphenyls are less likely to give birth
These findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting
that environmental pollution may be responsible for changes
in the proportion of male births around the world.
PCBs are manmade chemicals, used until the late 1970s
as coolants and lubricants. Manufacture of PCBs was stopped
in the United States more than 20 years ago because of
concerns about contamination in the environment and effects
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and
the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services
measured the PCB levels in the blood of parents from the
Great Lakes region of the United States who have eaten
large quantities of contaminated fish.
The researchers found a clear connection between between
high levels of PCBs in the blood of women and a reduction
in their chance of conceiving a boy.
They also found some evidence that paternal exposure
to PCBs may play a role in the sex ratio, but they said
the results were weak and inconsistent.
The researchers admitted that the blood samples were
taken some time after conception, but the results still
add to an increasing body of evidence that chemical pollutants
can have effects on the chances of giving birth to a boy
or a girl.
Eating fish from the Great Lakes has previously been
linked to a reduction in the birth weight of babies, a
shortened menstrual cycle, reduced fertility, and neurologic
disorders, according to the report.