Recently, I’ve seen several mentions of an app called StorkDiet Guide to Conceiving Girls in the media. The $9.99 app, which claims to help women who are trying to get pregnant conceive girls, is loosely based on the findings of a British study that collected data about the eating habits of 740 pregnant women. The researchers in that study analyzed the women’s diet information and concluded that those with a lower energy (calorie) intake before conception were more likely to give birth to girls.
Could there be any validity to the app? I’d say no, for several reasons. First, it’s unwise to rely on an app that’s based on a single study. Also, the study was strictly observational and not randomized (where study participants are randomly assigned to one treatment or another). That’s typically considered a better way to conduct research. In addition, since this study asked the pregnant women to recall what they ate before conception, we don’t know whether their memories were accurate or not (we call that recall bias).
In addition, the differences found in the British study were not huge: only about 55 percent of the women who took in fewer calories gave birth to girls. The investigators found the difference to be statistically significant, but it’s illogical to follow a low-calorie diet without a doctor’s input to gain only an extra five percent chance of conceiving a girl.
Last but not least, the study was designed to look at the effect of food availability on birth gender, because we are seeing a falling proportion of male births in industrialized countries. At no point did the authors endorse or suggest the use of their data as a way to increase the likelihood of conceiving a girl.
So, skip this app and get your healthy eating ideas from your doctor or nutritionist. That way, you are getting advice from the professionals themselves, not from an unproven phone app.