Reduced Ratio of Male to Female Births

Devra Lee Davis, Michelle B. Gottlieb, Julie Stampnitzky
Journal of the American Medical Association 1998;279:1018-1023

The amazing and incredible Devra Lee Davis is at it again. Fresh off predicting that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions would kill 8 million people in the first 20 years of the next century, Davis now claims that the proportion of males born has declined and that this can "be viewed as a sentinel health event that may be linked to [manmade chemicals in the environment, so-called "endocrine disrupters" or "environmental estrogens"].

But Davis' claim is not based on a scientific study. This article is merely a collection of anecdotes woven together to cause alarm. For example, Davis points to the low male birth rate among parents with the highest serum levels of dioxin from the 1976 industrial accident in Seveso, Italy.

While true, Davis fails to balance that with, for example, the higher-than-expected male birth rate among the most-exposed parents in the Ranchhand-Agent Orange cohort.

But the tale is really told in Davis' allegation that between 1970 and 1990, an "extra" 38,000 female births occurred out of roughly 70 million live births. This equates to about 1900 "extra" female births annually out of the 3.1 million to 4.0 million live births that occurred annually between 1970 and 1990. On a statewide basis, that's an "extra" 38 girl births per state per year or about 3 "extra" girl births per state per month.

How can she identify 3 "extra" female births per state per month AND THEN link the "extra" female births to manmade chemicals? Only Devra Lee Davis knows. You may want to ask her yourself.

Finally, Davis' cohort, Michelle Gottlieb suggested in a USA Today article that many female infants are the result of male infants reverting to the default sex (female) in utero. But the study was done with birth records, not karyotypes or other genetic tests!

So was the release of this study on April Fool's Day more than mere coincidence?

Material presented on this home page constitutes opinion of the author.
Copyright © 1998 Steven J. Milloy. All rights reserved. Site developed and hosted by WestLake Solutions, Inc.