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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Different sex ratios of children born to Indian and Pakistani immigrants in Norway

Narpinder Singh1*, Are Hugo Pripp2, Torkel Brekke3 and Babill Stray-Pedersen14

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

2 Department of Research Services, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

3 Section of Culture and Oriental studies, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

4 Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2010, 10:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-40

Published: 3 August 2010

Abstract

Background

A low female-to-male ratio has been observed in different Asian countries, but this phenomenon has not been well studied among immigrants living in Western societies. In this study, we investigated whether a low female-to-male ratio exists among Indian and Pakistani immigrants living in Norway. In particular, we investigated whether the determination of sex via ultrasound examination, a common obstetric procedure that has been used in Norway since the early 1980 s, has influenced the female-to-male ratio among children born to parents of Indian or Pakistani origin.

Methods

We performed a retrospective cohort study of live births in mothers of Indian (n = 1597) and Pakistani (n = 5617) origin. Data were obtained from "Statistics Norway" and the female-to-male (F/M) sex ratio was evaluated among 21,325 children born, in increasing birth order, during three stratified periods (i.e., 1969-1986, 1987-1996, and 1997-2005).

Results

A significant low female-to-male sex ratio was observed among children in the third and fourth birth order (sex ratio 65; 95% CI 51-80) from mothers of Indian origin who gave birth after 1987. Sex ratios did not deviate from the expected natural variation in the Indian cohort from 1969 to 1986, and remained stable in the Pakistani cohort during the entire study period. However, the female-to-male sex ratio seemed less skewed in recent years (i.e., 1997-2005).

Conclusion

Significant differences were observed in the sex ratio of children born to mothers of Indian origin compared with children born to mothers of Pakistani origin. A skewed number of female births among higher birth orders (i.e., third or later) may partly reflect an increase in sex-selective abortion among mothers of Indian origin, although the numbers are too small to draw firm conclusions. Further research is needed to explain the observed differences in the female-to-male ratio among members of these ethnic groups who reside in Norway.