China's Gender Imbalance

Study suggests one child per family rule is leading to abortions of female fetuses

FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- China's policy of limiting each family to one child may be leading to a gender imbalance as parents usually choose to have baby boys, says a study in the new issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The ratio of boys to girls has steadily declined over the past few decades, but in China it has increased over the past 20 years. This study suggests families in China are using ultrasound to determine the gender of unborn children and selectively aborting female fetuses, even though it's against the law.

The study found the boy-to-girl ratio of Chinese couples living in Italy is lower than in China.

It tracked the births of babies born to Chinese couples who emigrated to the province of Tuscany over the past 10 years. The researchers used data collected from a screening program for cystic fibrosis between July 1992 and June 2002 and compared the boy/girl sex ratio of babies born to both Italian and Chinese parents in Tuscany.

During the study period, there were 265,502 babies born. The sex ratio at birth was similar for both Italian and Chinese couples, but was consistently lower than the published figures for Chinese couples in China.

The study says official Chinese census figures show the sex ratio at birth in some Chinese provinces exceeded 1.3 in 2000. The average ratio in industrialized countries is between 1.07 and 1.03.

The high number of boy babies in China is causing concern in China because of the social problems in may cause. The study authors suggest the problem could be resolved if China abolished its policy of one child per family.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the issue of China's sex ratio.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Dec. 4, 2003
Consumer News