By Margarita Nahapetyan
A new study by Tel Aviv University (TAU) School of Medicine, offers scientific evidence that baby boys are born with a bigger package of associated risks than their female counterparts.
Based on the data taken from 66,000 women who delivered their children at Israel's Rabin medical Center between 1995 and 2006, Professor Marek Glezerman, obstetrician and gynecologist at the TAU School of Medicine, in collaboration with his colleagues Yariv Yogev and Nir Melamed, found that while baby girls were at a higher risk of breech birth and restricted growth in the uterus, risks associated with boy fetuses were more common and abundant. According to the scientists, male fetuses carry "an independent risk factor" for a number of problems and complications during and before the labor process.
Pregnancies with a male fetus in many cases are much more complicated, said Prof. Glezerman. He added that baby boys are at a higher risk of growing very big in the womb, compared to baby girls. Also, boys are at risk of premature rupture of membranes, premature delivery, abnormal fetal heart rate, and delivery by vacuum, forceps or C-section.
In the new study, researchers concluded that male fetuses come with "a higher association of risks", but said that there should not be any worries or panic, as the findings should be viewed in the proper light. The expert said that boys are more problematic to a certain extent, but pregnancies involving boys should not be classified as 'high-risk' just for this reason, and added that it is only one factor for medical professionals to take into consideration when analyzing the whole picture.
"But in general, boys are more vulnerable in their life in utero, and this vulnerability continues to exist throughout their lives," said Glezerman, an expert in gender-based medicine who is also a chairman of the Helen Schneider Women's Hospital and deputy director of the Rabin Medical Center. It is a known fact, he said, that men have a shorter lifespan, compared to women; they are also more susceptible to different kinds of infections, and do not have such a good chance to withstand disease as women do. In other words, according to Glezerman, "men are the weaker sex."
Glezerman noted that this new findings have confirmed the old wives' tale that boys make troubles in the womb as well as in the delivery room. He also took the notion one step further, saying that males are also associated with an increased risk in the neonatal period after being born, and are more likely to get engaged in risky and troublesome behavior later in life. According to boys themselves, they are more likely to take risks as the result of peer pressure, and the presence of testosterone in a man's blood could also trigger more dangerous behavior. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, researchers wrote. "Men become soldiers, construction workers, and work as firefighters. They take on these risks quite naturally to protect their society, and they are trained to do this without question," Glezerman said.
The findings have been presented this week to the Israel Society for Gender Based Medicine.