More male babies born to Indian immigrants in Canada: study

April 11, 2016

By Christina Commisso, CTV News |

An unusually high proportion of male babies are being born to Indian-born women living in Canada who already have two or more children, according to a new study.

Two papers on gender imbalance published on Monday shows that a skewed sex ratio among Indian-born mothers has been apparent throughout Canada for at least two decades.

An Ontario-focused study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals that in the province, the gender imbalance increases significantly among Indian immigrants who have already had two girls and one abortion prior to the birth of their third child.

“All the previous papers published (about gender imbalance) looked only at the sex ratios and many inferred that this was due to abortion,” lead author Dr. Marcelo Urquia, an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.

Urquia said the Ontario study is the first to examine abortion data when looking at gender imbalance.

In a national study, published in journal CMAJ Open, the researchers examined birth certificate data of 5.8 million births to Canadian-born women and 177,990 Indian-born women between 1990 and 2011.

Urquia said worldwide, between 103 and 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. Among Canadian-born women living in Canada, about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls.

However, during this time frame women born in India who already had two children gave birth to 138 baby boys in Canada for every 100 girls. If they had three children, they gave birth to 166 boys for every 100 girls.

In the Ontario study, Urquia found that women who already had two daughters gave birth to 196 boys for every 100 girls.

The study also noted that:

  • The sex ratio rises to 326 boys for every 100 girls if the Indian-born mother with two daughters had an abortion prior to the third birth.
  • It rises to 409 boys for every 100 girls if the mother had more than one abortion.
  • The sex ratio rises again to 663 boys for every 100 girls if the mother had at least one abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy, when the sex of the fetus can be predicted by an ultrasound.

The researchers “conservatively estimate,” that 4,472 female fetuses of Indian immigrants living in Canada were “unaccounted for” over the last two decades.

“These are 4,500 girls who were not born and should have been born, if the sex ratio was balanced,” Urquia explained.

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