Morning sickness is sign of a baby girl

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THE OBSERVATION by Hippocrates, the Greek philosopher, that the sex of a baby could be predicted by its effect on the mother in pregnancy has been borne out by research.

More than 2,000 years ago Hippocrates wrote that a mother carrying a female baby had a pale face, while one carrying a male baby had a healthy skin tone. Now a study published in The Lancet has found that mothers of girls are more likely to suffer morning sicknessthan those carrying boys.

Researchers in Sweden who studied one million pregnant women found those carrying girls were at greatest risk of the nausea and vomiting known as hyperemesis gravidarum.

The condition, occurring in the first three months of pregnancy, can require admission to hospital. The study, covering Swedish births from 1987 to 1995, showed that for every 100 mothers hospitalised with nausea and vomiting, 55 were carrying girls and 44 boys. In all, 8,185 mothers were admitted to hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum.

However, Dr Thomas Asking of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the study, said that using sickness as a pre-birth gender indicator would be "not much better than tossing a coin".

The authors say the cause of the sickness is unknown, although it is thought to be linked to higher production of human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone in pregnancy.