Shaoni Bhattacharya in New Scientist:
Over the last 20 years, about 10 million female fetuses may have been selectively aborted following ultrasound results in India, suggest Prabhat Jha at the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues.
Their study of 1.1 million households across India reveals that in 1997, far fewer girls were born to couples if their preceding child or children were also female. “There was about a 30% gap in second females following the birth of any earlier females,” Jha told New Scientist.
When the firstborn child was a daughter, the sex ratio for second children among the 134,000 births in 1997 was just 759 girls for every 1000 boys. For a third child, just 719 girls were born per 1000 boys, if both the older children were girls. However, if the eldest children were boys, the sex ratios for the second and third child were about 50-50.
Based “on conservative assumptions” the gap in births equates to about 0.5 million missing female births a year, says the team. Assuming the practice has been common in the two decades since ultrasound became widely available, this adds up to 10 million missing girls.
“Female infanticide of the past is refined and honed to a fine skill in this modern guise,” says Shiresh Sheth of the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, India, in a commentary accompanying the study in The Lancet.