Paternal effects on the human sex ratio at birth: evidence from interracial crosses

Am J Hum Genet. 1984 Sep;36(5):1103-11.


The effects of interracial crossing on the human sex ratio at birth were investigated using United States birth-certificate data for 1972-1979. The sex ratio was 1.059 for approximately 14 million singleton infants born to white couples, 1.033 for 2 million born to black couples, and 1.024 for 64,000 born to American Indian couples. Paternal and maternal race influences on the observed racial differences in sex ratio were analyzed using additional data on approximately 97,000 singleton infants born to white-black couples and 60,000 born to white-Indian couples. After adjustment for mother's race, white fathers had significantly more male offspring than did black fathers (ratio of sex ratios [RSR] = 1.027) and Indian fathers (RSR = 1.022). On the other hand, after adjustment for father's race, white mothers did not have more male offspring than did black mothers (RSR = 0.998) or Indian mothers (RSR = 1.009). The paternal-race effect persisted after adjustment for parental ages, education, birth order, and maternal marital status. The study shows that the observed racial differences in the sex ratio at birth are due to the effects of father's race and not the mother's. The study points to paternal determinants of the human sex ratio at fertilization and/or of the prenatal differential sex survival.

MeSH terms

  • Black People*
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Sex Ratio*
  • United States
  • White People*