Study shows sex selection practices in doctors’ families
The skewed ratio in the doctors’ families was strongly indicative of underlying sex-selection practices even though the ratios offer only circumstantial evidence, rather than proof, the study stated. The study was published recently in the American Journal ‘Demography’ and titled ‘Skewed Sex Ratios in India: Physician Heal Thyself’.
The researchers investigated the sex ratio in 946 nuclear families with 1,624 children where either one or both parents were doctors who had studied at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur between 1980 and 1985. The medical college is a large tertiary care teaching hospital in Vidarbha region, admitting 200 students for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery ( MBBS) .
Other than being more skewed than the national average, the researchers observed that the conditional sex ratios consistently decreased with increasing number of previous female births. Third, the birth of a daughter in the family was associated with a 38 % reduced likelihood of a subsequent female birth.
“Our investigation has revealed startling concerns about the potential sex selection practices among doctors of Vidarbha region. We are aware of the limitations of this study as the sample size is not very big and hence may not faithfully represent the entire physician community in India. But it definitely warrants a closer look. It will also be interesting to see whether such practices pervade others in the medical profession, such as nurses and paramedical workers,” said principal investigator Archana Patel.
Patel also works as a professor and head of the department of paediatrics. She is a director of epidemiology unit at Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur. The others who conducted the study with Patel are Neetu Badhoniya, Manju Mamtani and Hemant Kulkarni.
“The study was conducted for three reasons. The medical profession enjoys high esteem in India, and physicians are regarded as role models in society. Second, physicians have a crucial role in the implementation of the Pre Conception and Pre-Natal and Diagnostic Techniques (prevention of sex selection) Act to prevent the misuse of ultrasound and other techniques for prenatal sex determination, which has been implicated for selective abortion of girls. Third, little is known whether this preference for boys also exists among the families of Indian physicians. Hence, we investigated the pattern of sex ratios in the immediate families of physicians,” Patel said.
General surgeon Maya Tulpule, president of the city chapter of Indian Medical Association said, “I will discuss the matter with IMA managing committee members to see whether we can take up such a survey here in Pune.”
It was an important study which reflected the mindset of the society of which doctors are a part, said senior psychiatrist Devendra Shirole, former national vice president of IMA. “However, a multi-centric study with a larger sample size is needed. We will discuss this at IMA’s national meeting soon,” he added.
Previous studies have also claimed that this son preference varies little with education or income and that selective abortion of girls is common in educated and affluent households, presumably because they can afford ultrasound and abortion services more than uneducated or poorer households.
- Fewer daughters for India’s doctors, suggests shocking report (fassmumbai.wordpress.com)
- Haryana – lowest child sex ratio in 0-6 yr age group in India (fassmumbai.wordpress.com)