Researchers have come out with profound findings claiming that not only do heavy women smokers have a higher chance of giving birth to girl children, they also run the risk of their unborn male fetuses being destroyed, especially if they and their partners smoke.
The study authors from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK found that women smokers were one third less likely to give birth to boys than non-smokers. This chance was lessened to one-half if both spouses smoked.
These results were reached by the analysis of 9000 pregnancies at the hospital between 1998 to 2003.
The conclusions extended to passive smokers too- such mothers-to- be lessened their chances of getting boys.
So who is the culprit and how does he work? Nicotine among others, say the scientists. Accordingly, nicotine the prime chemical in tobacco is said to find its way to the cervix's mucous layer and inhibit Y-chromosomes from fertilizing eggs, hence curtailing the production of male embryos.
Says study author Professor Bernard Brabin: "The message is clear: if you want an increased chance of a male baby, don't smoke during pregnancy."
Calling the study findings fascinating, Australian expert Dr Anne Clark, from the Fertility Society of Australia, said that it was already known that male embryos were less robust and more likely to miscarry, than females.
"More males are conceived than girls but about the same number are born once this weakness is accounted for," Dr Clark said.
"But we didn't know about this smoking connection."
At the same time, Clark has voiced concerns that the findings may influence would-be parents desiring a girl child, to light up.
She sets the picture right.
"If people think that smoking might get them what they want, they're wrong.
"If a father smokes to get a girl, that girl is four times more likely to get cancer than if he didn't. And the mother is going to be three times more likely to have a fertility problem and twice as likely to have a miscarriage if she takes up the habit around the time of conception.
"So the message is don't smoke at all if you want a child."