Want a baby boy? You need to eat more cereal, claim the experts.
A new study into the gender of newborn babies has discovered that a mother's diet around the time of conception can affect whether they have a girl or a boy.
According to the research, a baby boy is more likely if the mother has a higher energy intake, including more potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12, which may explain why mothers who eat lots of cereal (which is often fortified with the aforementioned vitamins) often have boys.
In tests conducted by Exeter and Oxford universities, 56% of first-time mothers who ate high-energy foods at conception had boys, compared to only 45% of those with a low energy diet, and this rose to 59% for women who ate breakfast cereal every day.
'We were able to confirm the old wives' tale that eating bananas and so having a high potassium intake was associated with having a boy, as was a high sodium intake,' says researcher Dr Fiona Mathews.
'But the old tale about drinking a lot of milk to have a girl doesn't seem to hold up. In fact, more calcium meant they were again more likely to have a boy.'
She adds: 'If you're looking for a boy, then eating breakfast cereal every day and within safe limits, having a reasonable intake of sodium, potassium and calcium, plus a good intake of protein looks like a sensible option.
'It's the converse of that if you're hoping for a girl, but again, only within safe limits.'
However, there is a note of caution along with the advice. As well as urging women to be careful about eating too much, or too little, Mathews points out: 'This may help to explain why in developed countries, where many young women choose to have low calorie diets, the proportion of boys born is falling.'