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Boy or girl? It's in the father's genes
Date:12/11/2008

sperm and have more sons.
  • The second, known as mf, produce a roughly equal number of X and Y sperm and have an approximately equal number of sons and daughters.
  • The third, known as ff produce more X sperm and have more daughters.
  • "The gene that is passed on from both parents, which causes some men to have more sons and some to have more daughters, may explain why we see the number of men and women roughly balanced in a population. If there are too many males in the population, for example, females will more easily find a mate, so men who have more daughters will pass on more of their genes, causing more females to be born in later generations," says Newcastle University researcher Mr Gellatly.

    More boys born after the wars

    In many of the countries that fought in the World Wars, there was a sudden increase in the number of boys born afterwards. The year after World War I ended, an extra two boys were born for every 100 girls in the UK, compared to the year before the war started. The gene, which Mr Gellatly has described in his research, could explain why this happened.

    As the odds were in favour of men with more sons seeing a son return from the war, those sons were more likely to father boys themselves because they inherited that tendency from their fathers. In contrast, men with more daughters may have lost their only sons in the war and those sons would have been more likely to father girls. This would explain why the men that survived the war were more likely to have male children, which resulted in the boy-baby boom.

    In most countries, for as long as records have been kept, more boys than girls have been born. In the UK and US, for example, there are currently about 105 males born for every 100 females.

    It is well-documented that more males die in childhood and before they are old enough to have children. So in the same way that the gene may cause more boys to be
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    Contact: Karen Bidewell
    karen.bidewell@ncl.ac.uk
    44-019-122-27850
    Newcastle University
    Source:Eurekalert

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