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J Theor Biol. 2008 Nov 21;255(2):199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.07.016. Epub 2008 Jul 22.

The variations of human sex ratio at birth with time of conception within the cycle, coital rate around the time of conception, duration of time taken to achieve conception, and duration of gestation: a synthesis.

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  • 1Galton Laboratory, University College London, Wolfson House, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, UK.


There is a large research literature on the variation of human sex ratio (proportion of males at birth) with (1) time of insemination within the mother's fruitful cycle (TWC), (2) duration of gestation (DOG), (3) coital frequency, here called 'coital rate' (CR) and (4) duration of time taken to achieve conception in a period of risk (viz. in the absence of birth limitation methods) (TTC). The variation of sex ratio with each of these four variables has usually been treated as a discrete topic. Consider the four propositions that each of these sorts of variation exists. Here it is argued that these propositions entail one another to varying degrees, and that, for that reason, empirical failures to detect (at conventional levels of significance) one such form of variation (as e.g. with time to conception) should not justify rejecting the hypothesis that such variation exists until the whole network of propositions has been considered. Evidence that offspring sex ratio varies with time of conception within the cycle is strong. It is argued here that, as a consequence, the available data constitute evidence that sex ratio varies with CR and with time to achieve conception, although this variation is small, difficult to detect and of no clinical significance. Lastly, sex ratio varies substantially with DOG, though the explanation for this is not established: it is suggested that the present treatment provides a testable framework for such an explanation.

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