Can you really choose the sex of your child through food?

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Can you really choose the sex of your child through food?

Since the dawn of time, prayers, potions, contortions during love and other grandmother’s advice have nourished the hopes of couples looking for girls and (especially) boys.

When, in 1983, doctor François Papa exposes his “magic” method to force the hand of destiny, obviously, it is a hit. According to the gynecologist with the predestined name, his recipe would show a success rate of 88%. It would also be supported by numerous international scientific studies.

The idea: to modulate, via the plate, the mineral salt intake of women in order to influence the sex of the future baby.

“The theory says that to act on fertilization, you have to work upstream of conception,” explains Alix d’Antras. The naturopath at Gynécée, a Parisian place dedicated to women and motherhood, however, claims not to be in favor of the approach. Dr. Papa (and before him, from the 1970s, Dr. Joseph Stolkowski) starts from the observation that the X chromosome, the one that conditions the female sex, is slower and more resistant in an acid environment than the Y chromosome, which, , determines the masculine. The gynecologist says he has analyzed since 1978, in his department at Cochin Hospital, the eating habits of women with only children of the same sex.

“The girl-boy diet is based on two observations”, explains Alix d’Antras. First: the more the report will take place in the fertile window, but well before the window of the ovulation date, the more the couple will have a chance of having a girl. The Y chromosome, both more fragile and faster, will tend to fertilize the egg if the intercourse is closer to ovulation. In short, the more intercourse takes place before ovulation, the more the chances of having a girl increase, and vice versa.

The second parameter of choice concerns food: the plate can affect the degree of acidity of the cervical mucus present in the uterus. Thus, the consumption of cow’s milk products or sugary and processed foods makes the vaginal flora more acidic, which will favor the X chromosome in the race for fertilization.

The key: more chances of having a girl. And conversely, an alkaline diet will increase the likelihood of having a boy.

Girl or boy: modulate the plate according to the mineral salts

On the chemical level, this strategy involves providing certain mineral salts in well-defined proportions. To have a boy, we will increase the sodium and potassium intakes and we will limit those of calcium and magnesium. And vice versa. Future mothers must create their menus from a list of authorized foods… to be strictly adhered to, as explained in Dr Papa’s bestseller, Choose the gender of your child (Ed. JC Lattes). To work, this diet must be started two and a half months before conception.

In the boy’s diet, we will consume tap water and spring water, and at least 75 cl of fruit juice per day, because the latter are rich in potassium. All vegetables are allowed except cabbage, green salads, spinach or watercress. Savory foods are encouraged.

To have a girl, we rather allow ourselves to eat carrots, tomatoes, green beans, turnips, eggplants, leeks, cucumbers, peas and radishes. We are limited to 130 grams of meat and fish per day and the saltiest products, such as charcuterie, cod or smoked salmon, are excluded. Also out of the game, fruit juices, in favor of milk (at least 75 cl per day).

No scientific proof but proven risks of deficiencies

“We do not have no scientific evidence regarding this approach”, observes Dr. Clara Colomé, director of IVI Mallorca, a reproductive medicine center based in Spain, and gynecologist of the French patient population. The professional also claims not to have seen any requests in this direction. “During an assisted reproduction process, patients want to realize their dream of having a child, regardless of gender. Pregnancy is always good news for them. In addition, the law on Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques prohibits the choice of the sex of the baby”.

Same story on the Alix d’Antras side. “I have not seen a study carried out on a sufficient number of people that leans in favor of this method. I understand the theory but I do not really believe in it”.

According to the naturopath, this diet would not be dangerous if it were practiced in an approximate way, but the method requires to be followed rigorously, which changes the situation. “There is a real risk in banning certain food groups. Take green vegetables, many of which are alkaline; they are essential for the growth of the fetus, even before the start of pregnancy, then during the first weeks during which we do not necessarily know that we are pregnant”, points out the professional of healthy food. “We can therefore develop deficiencies that are detrimental to the future baby”.

And to put things in perspective: today, the only reliable technique for choosing the sex of a child is to sort the embryos, which cannot be done without a valid reason. This technique is reserved for cases of rare disease, relating to a particular chromosome.

A diet that whets the appetites of start-ups

Alix d’Antras follows many women planning maternity. “Their challenge is to be able to conceive and go through with the pregnancy safely; they generally do not worry about the sex of the child,” she comments. “These desiderata are regrettable because they weigh harmful projections on the child in the making”.

Start-ups contacted me to recruit me in gender monitoring programs. “It’s becoming a business and I find it dangerous.” According to her, the desire to influence the sex of the fetus is not so trivial. We understand the outcry triggered by the launch of MyBubelly, an application that takes up the theses of Dr Papa and seduces pretenders to parenthood by announcing a record success rate of 90%.

Gynecologist Israel Nisand, president of the National College of French Gynecologists and Obstetricians, fired red bullets at this digital tool in an article published in Le Parisien (2019). “Allowing sexing, (note: determining the sex) is the door open to the genocide of girls that exists in India and China, where boys are favored”, warns the gynecologist-obstetrician Jacques Milliez in 20 Minutes. If, in Switzerland, it is authorized to determine the sex of the baby genetically, the law forbids the doctors to announce it to the parents before the 12th week, to avoid these gynocides.

Color of eyes, hair, size… The choice of gender is the first step towards the child à la carte. This departure from the ethical principle of undecidability, according to which “one cannot decide the qualities of a human being” raises many questions. Do we make a baby for ourselves, or to become one? Do our whims have a place in the birth of a being? Can we find good reasons to choose our children? At a time when genetic engineering gives the possibility of choosing, in part (and it’s to bet, more and more), the person of our children, the debate is open.

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