To Think Pink Or Go Blue?
Judaism, salty foods and looking to the sex of your child.
t last, a reason you really
must eat chocolate.
You have nine boys and you
love each one dearly. But ah,
the thought of a girl — pink dresses,
bouncing curls, Raggedy Ann dolls.
Popular wisdom has it that eating
chocolate may be just the thing.
Or maybe you would prefer going
for the vegetables, which another bit of
folklore says also is sure to bring you a
While most gentile couples are busy
decorating nurseries, holding baby
showers and telling everyone the names
of their on-the-way bundle of joy,
Judaism supports none of these. And
although you can walk down any street
in Israel and buy mezuzah-shaped bits
of paper said to contain prayers guaran-
teeing pregnancy, Halachic Judaism
holds no place for trying to predict or
change fate with charms or "magic
spells" (that's called paganism). If you
want a healthy baby you can ask God,
but you shouldn't carry amulets to
make you "lucky"
This does not mean, however, that
Jewish parents cannot do a bit of plan-
While rabbinical opinion varies on
such complex issues as artificial insemi-
nation, everyone would understand a
Jewish mom's desire for a girl when she
already has 11 boys. Could that choco-
late be the answer?
But first, the facts.
If you're hoping for a boy, the odds
are in your favor. According to the
National Institutes of Health, 51.2 per-
cent of the babies born each year are
boys (with 48.8 percent being girls).
Things get decidedly less scientific
when it comes to whether parents can
choose whether they have a boy or a
In 1995, the New England Journal of
Medicine published a report on whether
any single action couples take can really
help determine the sex of their child.
The answer? In a word: no.
Yet there may be hope. And who
would have imagined that that answer
might have started with the cow and
the goat and even the pig?
Three years after the New England
Journal of Medicine report, Human
Reproduction ran an article that chroni-
cled the work of the Genetics & IVF
Institute in Fairfax, Va. Following in
the footsteps of DNA work once used
for research on farm animals, workers
at the Institute now say that parents
may be able to use cytometry to help
determine the sex of their child.
In cytometry, DNA is stained with a
fluorescent dye, which, the Institute
says, can identify Y or X chromosomes.
(Y chromosomes, which produce boys,
have more genetic material than X
chromosomes, which results in girls.
This procedure would, of course, only
work for cases of artificial insemina-
According to the report in Human
Reproduction, the Institute has had an
85 percent success rate so far.
In another method, expressed in
How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, Dr.
Landrum Shettles and David Rorvik
suggest that couples wishing a boy
should have marital relations as soon as
possible to the time of ovulation. This
is based on their theory that Y chromo-
somes (those are the guys) move faster
and have a shorter lifespan than their
X, or female, counterparts.
Or, maybe it's the other way around?
In her book Boy or Girl? author
Elizabeth Whelan says the exact oppo-
site is true.
Possibly the most popular method
for determining the sex of the child is
known as the Ericsson Method, devel-
oped by Dr. Ronald Ericsson, which is
used by fertility clinics nationwide. The
Ericsson Method makes use of a cen-
trifuge to separate Y and X chromo-
somes (the Y's are lighter), which are
then inserted (again, thanks to artificial
insemination) into the egg, based upon
whether the couple wants a boy or girl.
But maybe all this sounds too expen-
sive, or just too darn complicated, for
you. There are alternatives.
Folklore is rampant with suggestions
on how to have a boy or a girl. Much
of it has to do with food.
If you're hoping to conceive a little
David or Michael, Mom should eat lots
of red meat, advises one bit of popular
wisdom. Another tradition holds that
couples wishing a boy should enjoy
plenty of salty snacks, then Dad should
wash his down with a lot of cola
drinks. Then be sure it's a quarter
moon in the sky, that the woman falls
asleep to the left of her husband and it's
an odd day on the calendar when you
try to conceive.
If you're dreaming of your own Sarah
or Rachel, healthy food is what you
need. Future moms-to-be need to get
plenty of fish and vegetables and LOTS
of sweets, especially chocolate. Plan on
romance when the moon is full and
pick an even date on the calendar to
guarantee (or so legend says) that you'll
have a girl.
Guessing The Gender
Suppose, though, that you're already
pregnant. The temptation of finding
GUESSING on page 88