Nav: Home

Study suggests bias for sons remains among second-generation women of South Asian descent

June 21, 2018

TORONTO, June 21, 2018--A preference for male children persists among second-generation mothers of South Asian descent, according to new study that found a skewed ratio of male-to-female babies born to these women in Ontario.

The findings, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, came from the same group of researchers who reported in 2016 that more male babies than expected were being born to Indian-born women living in Canada.

Today's publication shows the gender imbalance persisted among second-generation mothers of South Asian descent, (women born in Canada) and was associated with previous abortions.

The study was led by Dr. Susitha Wanigaratne, a social epidemiologist and post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. The study was co-authored with several second-generation Punjabi women, including Manvir Bhangoo, founder of Laadliyan Celebrating Daughters, a non-profit organization promoting gender equity among the South Asian community in the Greater Toronto Area.

In most of the world, between 103 and 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. Canadian-born women of non-South Asian ethnicity give birth to about 104 boys for every 100 girls.

Earlier research published by Dr. Wanigaratne's group showed that women born in India, who already had two daughters, gave birth in Ontario to 196 boys for every 100 girls. The sex ratio increased significantly if the mothers had at least one abortion prior to the third birth. They also found that the male-biased ratio was driven by mothers whose mother tongue was Punjabi or Hindi and that the bias remained even after the mother resided in Canada for more than 10 years. The findings suggested the practice of sex selective abortion, which is common in India, is also happening in Canada.

Noting that Indian immigrants began arriving to Canada as early as the 1890s and in larger numbers since the late 1960s, Dr. Wanigaratne set out to see whether son-biased sex ratios were also occurring among subsequent generations of mothers.

She compared 10,273 live births to second-generation mothers of South Asian ethnicity and 36,687 live births to first-generation mothers from South Asian countries who gave birth between 1993 and 2014. She used data housed by ICES, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada permanent resident database and the Canadian Institute for Health Information's Discharge Abstract Database.

In today's publication she reported important similarities and differences between first- and second-generation mothers of South Asian ethnicity:

Among second-generation mothers of South Asian ethnicity with two previous daughters and at least one prior abortion, 280 boys were born for every 100 girls, which was similar to the male-to-female ratio among first-generation mothers. This finding suggests that both groups of mothers are likely taking part in sex-selective abortion in Ontario.

However, among second-generation mothers of South Asian ethnicity with two previous daughters and no prior abortion, the male-to-female ratio was not elevated. Among first-generation mothers with two previous daughters and no reported abortions, 142 boys were born for every 100 girls. This second finding suggests that first-generation mothers are possibly leaving the province or country for an abortion while second-generation mothers are not.

Dr. Wanigaratne suggests that developing and supporting culturally acceptable and community-driven interventions are crucial next steps to tackle son preference in South Asian families, particularly for those originating from India.
-end-
This study was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

About St. Michael's Hospital
St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

For more information or to interview Dr. Wanigaratne, please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
Phone: 416-864-6094
shepherdl@smh.ca
St. Michael's Hospital
Inspired Care. Inspiring Science.
http://www.stmichaelshospital.com
Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/stmikeshospital

St. Michael's Hospital

Related Abortion Articles:

Study finds provider capacity to expand abortion -- implications for access during COVID-19
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that interest in abortion care among advance practice clinicians (APCs) in Colorado is substantial, though barriers must be addressed in order to increase access with APCs (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician's assistants).
Judges deny abortion care to teens
Thirty-seven states require minors to either notify their parents or go before a judge before having an abortion.
Texas abortion patients' more likely to attempt to end their pregnancy on their own
Seven percent of Texas abortion patients in the study reported trying to self-manage abortion before coming to a clinic for services.
Five years after abortion, study finds nearly all women say it was the right decision
Five years after having an abortion, over 95 percent of the women in a landmark UC San Francisco study said it was the right decision for them.
First of its kind study seeks to answer whether effects of 'abortion pill' can be reversed
Women who initiate medical abortion but opt to stop in the middle of treatment may be at risk for serious blood loss, a UC Davis Health study finds.
State abortion conscience laws
This study examined state laws that grant individuals and institutions rights to refuse participation in abortion based on their beliefs, that grant immunity from liability for such refusals, and that limit conscience rights when patient safety is at risk.
The Lancet Psychiatry: Abortion does not increase a woman's risk of attempting suicide
Policies based on the notion that undergoing an abortion causes or increases women's risk of suicide attempts are misinformed, according to the results of a 17-year-long observational study including more than half a million 18 to 36-year-old Danish women who had a first, first-trimester abortion, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.
Online abortion medication demand highest in states with restrictive abortion policies
Demand for abortion medication through online telemedicine in the United States varies by state policy context, according to new peer-reviewed research from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers see stress and trauma in women's stories about abortion
A University at Buffalo-led research team has used public narratives, an increasingly popular form of person-centered advocacy offering a forum for sharing previously untold stories, to study the undue stress experienced by women in relation to abortion.
US abortion politics: How did we get here and where are we headed?
After Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement accelerated rapidly, describes Munson in a new paper, 'Protest and Religion: The US Pro-Life Movement,' published last week in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics.
More Abortion News and Abortion Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.