Document Type

Brief Communication


The low male/female ratio at birth in African populations has been attributed to a variety of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. A low sex ratio at birth has been associated with maternal malnutrition in mammals, but this issue has not been studied in humans. In this study we analyzed the relation between maternal nutritional status and sex ratio at birth in 3282 children born to 684 women from a rural African society. Short maternal stature and obesity were independently related to a low sex ratio at birth. These results are consistent with animal experiments that indicate an adverse effect of maternal malnutrition on male fetuses. The results warrant further research in this area.