A growing literature has shown that environmental exposures in the period around conception can affect the sex ratio at birth through selective attrition that favors the survival of female conceptuses. Glucose availability is considered a key indicator of the fetal environment and its absence due to meal skipping may inhibit male survival. We hypothesize that breakfast skipping during pregnancy may lead to a reduction in the fraction of male births. Using U.S. time use data we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 20 percentage points more likely to skip breakfast. Using U.S. Census data we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 1.2 percentage points less likely to have a male child under the age of 2. Using an instrumental variables framework and assuming certain assumptions hold true, this implies that routinely skipping breakfast around the time of conception leads to a 6 percentage point reduction in the probability of a male child. Skipping breakfast during pregnancy may therefore constitute a poor environment for fetal health more generally.
Bhashkar Mazumder (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)
Date & time:
30 Apr 2014 11:00 am - 30 Apr 2014 12:00 pm
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