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Is It a Boy or a Girl?

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A search on Google for gender selection brings up more than 500,000 hits, with sites ranging from the mundane (simple calendars to track ovulation cycles) to the outrageous (star charts to determine the most auspicious moment to conceive a boy or a girl). More than a few sites promote vague but expensive services to supposedly procure the desired results. But according to a new study, a woman's diet plays a more important role than ever imagined.

The study tracked the food intake of 740 first-time mothers before and after they became pregnant. The women were then divided into three groups, determined by the amount of calories consumed daily. The study revealed that women who packed in the vitamins and minerals in high-energy diets produced male children. Of the women that participated in the study, 56% with the highest energy intake had boys, compared with 45% among less well-fed women. Of the greatest surprise, more sons were born to women who ate at least one bowl of cereal each morning.

In the developed nations of the world, a gradual increase in the number of girls has occurred over the past forty years. Although obesity rates have also risen during this time, the study alludes to the poor diets of most people as the culprit for the shift. Many adults skip breakfast, for example, or eat meals high in calories but low in energy and nutrients. What's more, many women follow an on-again, off-again cycle of diets. If women were to conceive while following a dieting regimen, then chances for a daughter improve.

The study stayed away from recommendations, but readers may draw their own: Don't count calories, and eat food high in vitamins, minerals, and energy in order to conceive a boy. A bowl of cereal laced with sugar anyone?

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree?:

  1. In recent years, more girls than boys have been born.
  2. If it were possible, I would want to choose the gender of my baby.
  3. I would prefer a son to a daughter.
  4. I would want to know the gender of my child before he/she were born.
  5. The food a mother eats determines the gender of a baby.

Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.

  1. According to the article, what kinds of websites are there if you want to choose the sex of your baby?
  2. What did the study examine?
  3. What has happened over the past forty years?
  4. What could happen if a woman became pregnant while on a diet?
  5. What does the article conclude?

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. You have three daughters and want a son. Would you do anything to improve the chances for a boy?
  2. Do you think the method discovered in the study really works? Would you want to try it?
  3. What are some consequences of gender selection? How serious are these consequences?
  4. Would you want to know of any possible diseases or conditions of your unborn child? Why/not?
  5. Will parents be able to choose the gender of their child, as well as eye and hair color, IQ, etc? When?

Google Search: Type "gender selection" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:



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