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Great Lakes Article:

Eat Contaminated Fish, Give Birth To Girls?
Study Finds PCB Levels Affect Baby's Gender
The Milwaukee Channel
05/01/03

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 to boys.

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 on health.

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.

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