Sex selection drugs are indigenously prepared medicines consumed during initial months of pregnancy with a hope of giving birth to a male child. This is believed to make some alterations in the female reproductive tract after conception in order to facilitate the birth of a male baby. The study was conducted in Haryana to assess the risk of taking these medicines.
The study concluded that women who take these medicines are 3 times at higher risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects and 2.5 times at higher risk of stillbirths.
Preliminary results indicated that more than 60% of SSDs contained steroids, phytoestrogens and some contained testosterone. Shivalingi and Majuphalare some of the herbal ingredients. The dosage of SSDs varies from 2-3 tablets to be consumed together to consuming one tablet twice a day for 3 days to 21 days, depending on the prescriber. The medicines are generally given by faith healers, quacks, grocers and often some religious leaders.
“Out of 5 women taking these medicines, one would give birth to a stillborn baby”, said Dr Sutapa B Neogi, the lead Investigator of the study. “It runs a very high risk of complications given the fact that almost 25% of mothers with a child with birth defect and 16% with stillbirths gave a history of intake of such medicines” she mentioned. These practices reflect a strong preference for sons that exists till date.
The study was sponsored by National Health Mission, Haryana.