Paris, Jan. 8 (AFP): A study has revealed that around 10 million female foetuses may have been aborted in India in the past two decades because of ultrasound sex screening and a traditional preference for boys.
The report was published online in The Lancet.
Researchers in Canada and India based their study on data from a national survey, conducted in 1.1 million Indian households in 1998, and on information about 1,33,738 births in 1997.
They found that in cases where the preceding child was a girl, the gender ratio for a second birth was just 759 girls to 1,000 boys. And when the two previous children were girls, the ratio fell even further, to 719 girls to 1,000 boys.
But when the preceding children were male, the gender ratio among successive births was about the same.
Based on the natural sex ratio in other countries, around 13.6 to 13.8 million girls should have been born in India in 1997 ' but the actual number was 13.1 million.
“We conservatively estimate that prenatal sex determination and selective abortion accounts for the 0.5 million missing girls yearly,” said one of the report’s authors, Prabhat Jha of St Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto.
“If this practice has been common for most of the past two decades since access to ultrasound became widespread, then a figure of 10 million missing female births would not be unreasonable,” he said.
The study also pointed out that the “girl deficit” was far more prominent among educated women. The number of boys born as second children was twice as high among this group than among illiterate mothers.