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J Biosoc Sci. 2001 Jul;33(3):451-67.

Birth weight, sexual orientation and the sex of preceding siblings.

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  • 1Centre for Addiction and Mental Health-Clarke Division, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This study's first objective was to compare the mean birth weights of homosexual and heterosexual men and women. Its second objective was to investigate whether prior male and female fetuses have different effects on the birth weight of subsequent fetuses. The subjects were 3229 adult men and women (the probands), who weighed at least 2500 g at birth, and whose mothers knew the sex of the child (or fetus) for each pregnancy prior to the proband. Information on birth weight, maternal gravidity and other demographic variables was reported on questionnaires completed by the probands' mothers. The results confirmed earlier reports that boys with older brothers weigh less at birth than boys with older sisters, but they did not confirm reports that girls with older brothers weigh less than girls with older sisters. The results did not show across-the-board differences in the mean birth weights of homosexual versus heterosexual women or homosexual versus heterosexual men. However, the homosexual males with older brothers weighed about 170 g less at birth than the heterosexual males with older brothers. It is suggested that this pattern of results may reflect a maternal immune response to Y-linked minor histocompatibility antigens (H-Y antigens). According to this hypothesis, when the maternal immune response is mild, it produces only a slightly reduced birth weight, but when it is stronger, it produces a markedly reduced birth weight as well as an increased probability of homosexuality.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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