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Am J Hum Biol. 2012 Mar-Apr;24(2):165-9. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22214. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Sex ratios in the Arctic--do man-made chemicals matter?

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  • 1Centre for Health Research in Greenland, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.



The objective was to analyze the variation of secondary sex ratios across the Arctic and to estimate the time trend. The rationale for this was claims in news media that, in the Arctic, sex ratios have become reduced due to exposure to anthropogenic contaminants in the environment.


Data was collected from 27 circumpolar jurisdictions from public websites of the eight Arctic countries. Sex ratios at birth were calculated for each jurisdiction and each available year. Linear regression models of the sex ratios across time were fit within each jurisdiction to estimate the change in sex ratio over time.


All male:female sex ratios were close to 1.05 with time trends close to 0. In a Bayesian hierarchical model overall sex ratio was estimated at 1.054 (95% confidence interval 1.048, 1.058). The estimate for the 10-year slope across all jurisdictions was 0.0010 (95% confidence interval -0.0021, 0.0046). Separate analyses of indigenous populations in Alaska and Greenland gave similar results and similar sex ratios were found among Greenland Inuit in 1900 and today.


The absence of deviation of the secondary sex ratio in any of the Arctic jurisdictions indicates that the contaminants that are present are not disrupting endocrine systems to the extent that sex ratios are being affected.

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