A recent study by Canadian researchers says that the Indian-born women living in Canada are having unusually more male babies per 100 female babies than expected, implying that the practice of sex or gender selection, often through abortion, has been imported from India to Canada.
The study, conducted by Dr Marcelo Urquia from the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Health Policy, found the numbers were driven by women whose mother tongue was Punjabi and, to a lesser extent, Hindi.
In most of the world, between 103 and 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. Canadian-born women living in Canada give birth to about 105 boys for every 100 girls.
But the study findings, published on Monday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, showed that women born in India, who already have two daughters, gave birth to 196 baby boys in Ontario for every 100 girls.
The sex ratio increased significantly if the mothers had one abortion prior to the third birth, had more than one abortion, and if they had an abortion after 14 weeks gestation when the sex of the fetus can accurately be determined by an ultrasound, the study said.
The researchers looked at records relating to 46,834 live births to Indian-born women who immigrated to the province of Ontario between 1985 and 2012 and gave birth in Canada between 1993 and 2014.
They reported that among all Indian-born women with two previous daughters elevated male-to-female ratios were particularly evident among women whose mother tongue was Punjabi. At their third birth in Ontario, they had 240 boys for every 100 girls.
Women whose mother tongue was Punjabi gave birth to 213 boys for every 100 girls if they had lived in Canada for less than 10 years and 270 boys for every 100 girls if they had lived in Canada for more than 10 years — the opposite of what researchers would have expected, Dr Urquia said.
Indian-born women whose mother tongue was Hindi gave birth to 163 boys for every 100 girls overall, 130 boys if they lived in Canada less than 10 years and 217 boys if they lived in Canada for more than 10 years.
While this study did not look specifically at what was causing the gender imbalance, Dr Urquia said the findings suggest it will not be corrected without interventions that include community involvement and education.