Ilana Löwy: Imperfect pregnancies: a history of birth defects & prenatal diagnosis
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In 1946, obstetrician Naghib Riad from the University of Geneva published a book titled “How to predict and select the sex of the unborn child”. Professor Rene Koenig, from the University of Geneva, and Professor Jacques Pirenne, member of the Belgian Academy of Sciences wrote laudatory introductions to the book. The book was also successful. Twenty years after its publication an Italian edition came out (Riad 1965).
People have always tried to ensure the wellbeing of their children. They also tended to prefer males over females. Folk and “academic” literature throughout the centuries offered advice in these directions. Choice of a healthy partner, from a healthy family, was key. Appropriate conduct during intercourse, including choice of proper timing and positioning of the bed relative to the north, were also important. Pregnant women strove to avoid negative “maternal impressions”, which are ghastly or strange sights that may impact the fetus. Ample nutrition and healthy air during...
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