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What the Yuck: With history of boys, odds for a girl?
February 18th, 2011
04:26 PM ET

What the Yuck: With history of boys, odds for a girl?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: My husband is one of five boys. His father is one of six boys. Do we have even a chance of having a little girl?

Yes, despite the evidence you see in front of you (a family of boys), your chances of having a girl are 50/50. Well, okay, technically, 51/49. For some reason, the U.S. baby population skews to the boys - 51% of babies are boys; 49% are girls.

When you examine any man's semen, regardless of his family history, there are equal numbers of X and Y chromosomes in the sperm. So don't paint the nursery walls blue yet - you could very well have an XX, a.k.a a bouncing baby girl.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Paul

    If you want a girl, marry a man with a lot of sisters. Sure, at the starting gate there are half XX and half XY, but genetics are involved in how the race is run. To ignore the fact that there are dominant genders with in paternal lines borders on science the way you think it should be rather than science based on the data.

    February 18, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katie

      Just because there's a 50/50 chance of getting a boy or girl, doesn't mean that everyone is going to have 1/2 girls and 1/2 boys. That's the average. Every single time you conceive there's a 50/50 shot. Your body doesn't say, "Well I already have a girl, so now there's a 75% chance I should get a boy!" Statistically, there will be people on both end of the spectrum (all girls or all boys) and everywhere in b/w. It's not odd or some genetic thing, it's just the way the odds play out.

      February 20, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
  2. Suzanne Ford

    There may be more to it:

    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2008/12/15/44215.aspx

    February 18, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Brian

    Ya this is really silly. Of course there could be genetic factors that come in to play. Is it LIKELY that the person still has a 50/50 shot of a boy vs a girl? Ya that is most likely but the husband's family COULD have traits that skew it towards boys. Genetic mutation that makes X sperm nonviable? I'm sure they exist, even if they're rare.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrea M

      All sperm is X sperm, just one type is double X and the other has a Y on the end.

      February 20, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
    • itsybitsyspider

      Actually, all diploid cells (i.e. those that make up your body, or that of an embryo) carry two copies of each chromosome, and thus all of them have at least one X. But sperm and eggs both haploid, meaning they carry only one copy of each chromosome. You always get an X in the egg from your mom, but a sperm may carry one X or Y, not both. It's only after the sperm and egg fuse do you get a diploid cell that is either XX or XY.

      February 20, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
  4. LEB

    It's not the US that produces more boys, it's the human race. All over the world (at least in areas where female infanticide isn't a problem), the natural ratio of boys to girls born is about 106:100. The best guess I've heard to explain the baby gap is that nature is trying to compensate for the fact that males tend get killed off in all sorts of interesting ways, be it accidents or fights or illness. Not sure if it's true, but it does kind of make sense.

    And although I hate to contradict a doctor on the topic, it's also true that sperm with the Y chromosome is lighter than a sperm carrying the X chromosome, since the Y chromosome is so much smaller. So, the little Y spermies can swim slightly faster. However, in the case of the woman's husband and her family, it could be a genetic trait that their Y swimmers are little Michael Phelpses, tearing off toward the egg and leaving the X swimmers in the dust. Other men may produce speedy X swimmers, and thus wind up with a beautiful armful of daughters. And after all, the tendency to have twins runs in families... so why not the potential to produce more children of one gender than the other?

    February 19, 2011 at 05:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Quizzle

      Actually the U.S. male:female rate is about 105:100 and it is not attributable to infanticide. The ratio in China, India, Pakistan is closer to 108:100. Other patriarchal societies, like in the Middle East, have ratios close to the same as the U.S. Also, Americans of Asian descent have higher male:female ratios. I have heard the "light swimmer" sperm theory before, but there is no evidence to show it. If male fetuses were more viable it could account for it, but there's no evidence of that either. Twins run in families due to multiple ovulation; unless the existence of a purple cow increases the likelihood of a pink crow, the two situations have nothing to do with each other.

      February 19, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Infanticide aside, assuming we live in a country where people don't kill their baby girls because they're "less desirable," I thought that the higher male ratio was due to the fact that baby boys are more susceptible to die within the first year, so nature needs to compensate.

      February 20, 2011 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
    • laura

      haha, i love your reply! yeah i think nature is compensating for the male ego.

      February 20, 2011 at 23:44 | Report abuse |
  5. Tara

    Well, I think this answer is wrong. For most people, yes, your odds are 50/50-ish but some families are in fact genetically predisposed to one gender. Look at the Osmond family. There are, I believe eight sons and each of those sons has had all sons or close to it. The research I have read on gender selection backs this up.

    February 19, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Danna K

    My husband and I have 3 boys. He is one of two boys and his father was one of five boys. So, we decided to do PGD and make sure we had a girl for our fourth ( and final) child. After all was said and done, they ended up with 5 viable embryos to implant.....ALL OF THEM BOYS! Took me a few weeks to come to terms that I would never have a girl.

    February 19, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • k Pavee

      After 3 boys I made sure 100% we got a girl (actually 2)..... adoption. Waited longer than the normal 9 months, but so worth it!!!! Went through our local county and it was free – no high cost for attorneys. Life is good.

      February 20, 2011 at 19:57 | Report abuse |
  7. boy mommy

    Sure it would have been nice to have one of each...but all that really mattered to us was that our babies were healthy. Twenty-one years later, I cannot imagine my life without my 2 sons. Being their mom has rocked my world and made my life the happy, funny, joyful blessing it is!

    February 20, 2011 at 02:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ihusisian

    Who cares if you have a boy or a girl as long as the baby's healthy? You get what you get.

    February 20, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jeepers

    Ok...this is what a friend of mine told me. The sperm carrying the male chromosome swim faster and die faster. The girl ones are slower but live longer...up to 5 days possibly. If you are at all regular with your period, and want a girl do it 2 or 3 days before you ovulate and don't do it again. If you want a boy, your chances for a boy are greater if you do it when you're ovulating. When we had our third one...which was our first girl, the sonograms consistently gave a conception date of 2 days after the last time we did it, so I was pretty sure it would be a girl. I never paid attention to that with my boys because I hadn't heard that yet. Give it a try. It worked for us.

    February 20, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ron

      The male of anything is weaker and die faster than the female.

      Most of the miscarriages would have been males.
      The stress and shock caused by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, New York may have led to unexpected surge in miscarriages of male fetuses across the United States, researchers said on Monday, May 24th 2010.

      February 21, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      My wife and I would prefer to have only girls since we know that it would most likely result in healthy children as males die from every illness far more often than do girls.

      Also now that girls are being given an equal chance, we both see that women and girls surpassing us males in almost every area so in order to have children we think will be far more likely to succeed in life, we will chose all girls instead of any males

      February 21, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  10. JGM

    This is a dumb, and wrong, answer.

    You can't extend the statistics of an overall population to a particular person. If a particular couple or family has a statistically-significant lean towards creating children of one gender or another, it is likely that some factor is at play. As others have noted there are controllable factors such as timing, body chemistry, and technique that affect this probability as well as uncontrollable genetic factors.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. CDD

    I come from a family of 4 girls and two boys. When we all started having families of our own, it was boy, after boy, after boy. There are 12 boys and 2 girls now. I am a mother of 3 boys and thought I would never have a girl. I decided to do a little internet research and read some information about the Shettles method. Could be coincidence but I followed all the 'directions' and ended up having a girl. Yay!

    March 4, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Angela

    If you want girls, change the PH balance of your girlie parts. Sperm's motility and chances of survival while in the womb can be affected by a woman's PH levels. I have a friend who wanted a boy and she talked to her doctor and did some research – she stopped eating dairy and introduced potassium pills into her vitamin regime. She took something else too, but I can't remember. She's having a boy in a month. If you want a girl, do the opposite. Check it out.

    March 7, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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