Miscarriages More Likely if Firstborn Is a Boy

Study finds gender makes slight difference in future pregnancies

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TUESDAY, July 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Women whose first child is a boy are more likely to suffer recurrent miscarriages.

So says a Danish study presented Tuesday at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid, Spain.

The researchers studied 204 women who suffered secondary recurrent miscarriages admitted to clinics between 1986 and 2000 and obtained subsequent pregnancy outcome in 181 such patients admitted before 2000.

Among the women admitted before 2000, 54.4 percent of those who gave birth to a boy in their first pregnancy had given birth to a second live baby by January 2002, compared with 73 percent of women whose first child was a girl.

In a subset of women who had a second child after a series of miscarriages, the women whose first child was a boy had an average of 3.9 miscarriages before achieving a second birth, compared to an average of 3.5 miscarriages for women whose first child was a girl.

The researchers say this is a small but statistically significant difference.

"Our study shows that the majority (54.4 percent) of those who gave birth to a boy in their first pregnancy go on to have a second child. However, this percentage is lower than for those who gave birth to a girl first," study author Dr. Ole Christiansen says in a news release.

"Among my patients, I have at least 50 who never have a second child after the first birth of a boy, whereas approximately 20 patients did not experience another birth after having a girl. So there are patients who will never get a second child in both groups, but the risk is larger among women whose first child is a boy," Christiansen says.

He believes this difference is the result of the way women's immune systems react to male fetuses. That means it should be possible to successfully treat women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about miscarriage.

SOURCE: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, news release, July 1, 2003

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