Men are more likely than women to have health problems at most times in life, so the recent finding that male babies are born through more complicated labours than females should come as no surprise. Researchers analysed data from over 8000 births at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, between 1997 and 2001. Among babies born to primigravid mothers after spontaneous labours, male infants were more likely than females to require oxytocin augmentation, fetal blood sampling, and forceps or caesarean section delivery. After adjustment for confounding factors such as birthweight, duration of labour and the use of epidural anaesthesia (all greater for boys), a strong association between sex, birthweight, duration of labour and mode of delivery remained. The big “hole” in the study was the lack of data on head circumference (also greater in boys than girls). However, the researchers did not believe this factor would fully account for the differences.
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