Study suggests poor mothers favor daughters

June 21, 2012

Poor mothers will invest more resources in daughters, who stand a greater chance of increasing their status through marriage than do sons, suggests a study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Masako Fujita, Michigan State University anthropologist, and her fellow researchers tested the of mothers in northern Kenya and found that poor mothers produced fattier milk for their daughters than for their sons.

On the contrary, mothers who were better off financially favored sons over daughters.

The results, also featured in the journal Nature, support a 1973 hypothesis that predicts poor mothers will favor their daughters.

The Nature article, titled "Rich milk for poor girls," notes that Fujita and her team assessed the from 83 mothers living in villages in which men can have multiple wives. They found that mothers with less land and fewer livestock provided richer milk to their daughters than to their sons.

On average, a mother in northern Kenya raises six children.

The study is one of the first to explore parents' unequal biological investment in their children, such as the of breast milk.

Explore further: Empty nest syndrome may not be bad after all, study finds

Related Stories

Empty nest syndrome may not be bad after all, study finds

February 21, 2008

One day they are crawling, the next day they are driving and then suddenly they aren’t kids anymore. As children reach adulthood, the parent-child relationship changes as parents learn to adapt to newly independent children. ...

Drinking milk during pregnancy may lower baby's risk of MS

February 9, 2010

Drinking milk during pregnancy may help reduce your baby's chances of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) as an adult, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's ...

Recommended for you

Fossil specimen reveals a new species of ancient river dolphin

September 1, 2015

The careful examination of fossil fragments from Panama has led Smithsonian scientists and colleagues to the discovery of a new genus and species of river dolphin that has been long extinct. The team named it Isthminia panamensis. ...

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.