Male-biased sex ratios in Australian migrant populations: a population-based study of 1 191 250 births 1999-2015 (2018)
Background: The naturally occurring male-to-female (M/F) ratio at birth is 1.05. Higher ratios found primarily in countries across Asia have been attributed to prenatal sex selection due to son preference. There is growing evidence that sex-selective practices continue following migration; however, little is known about these practices following migration to Australia. Methods: In this population-based study we assessed M/F ratios at birth per mother's country of birth for all registered births 1999-2015 in Victoria, Australia (n = 1 191 250). We also compared the M/F ratio among births to mothers born elsewhere to that of mothers born in Australia, stratified by time period and parity. Results: Compared with the naturally occurring M/F ratio as well as to the M/F ratio among births to mothers born in Australia, there was an increased ratio of male births to mothers born in India, China and South-East Asia, particularly at higher parities and in more recent time periods (elevated M/F ratios ranged from 1·079 to 1·248, relative risks of male birth ranged from 1·012 to 1·084 with confidence intervals between 1·001 and 1·160 and P-values between 0·005 and 0·039). The most male-biased sex ratios were found among multiple births to Indian-born mothers, and parity of two or more births to Indian and Chinese-born mothers in 2011-15. Conclusions: The male-biased sex ratios observed in this study indicate that prenatal sex selection may be continuing following migration to Australia from countries where these practices have been documented. The excess of males among multiple births raises the question as to what role assisted reproduction plays. Findings also suggest that systematic discrimination against females starts in the womb.
KeywordsAustralia; relative risk; sex ratio; pregnancy; sex selection; sex preselection
ANZSRC Fields of Research32 - Biomedical and clinical sciences::3215 - Reproductive medicine::321503 - Reproduction
44 - Human society::4403 - Demography::440302 - Fertility
44 - Human society::4403 - Demography::440305 - Population trends and policies
16 - Studies in Human Society::1699 - Other Studies in Human Society::169901 - Gender Specific Studies
16 - Studies in Human Society::1604 - Human Geography::160403 - Social and Cultural Geography
RightsCopyright The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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