, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 1129-1134
Date: 16 Jan 2013

Skewed Sex Ratios in India: “Physician, Heal Thyself”

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Abstract

Sex selection, a gender discrimination of the worst kind, is highly prevalent across all strata of Indian society. Physicians have a crucial role in this practice and implementation of the Indian Government’s Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act in 1996 to prevent the misuse of ultrasound techniques for the purpose of prenatal sex determination. Little is known about family preferences, let alone preferences among families of physicians. We investigated the sex ratios in 946 nuclear families with 1,624 children, for which either one or both parents were physicians. The overall child sex ratio was more skewed than the national average of 914. The conditional sex ratios decreased with increasing number of previous female births, and a previous birth of a daughter in the family was associated with a 38 % reduced likelihood of a subsequent female birth. The heavily skewed sex ratios in the families of physicians are indicative of a deeply rooted social malady that could pose a critical challenge in correcting the sex ratios in India.