Chinese lunar calendar: Don't paint the nursery just yet

May 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you're among the parents-to-be who've used one of the increasingly popular online Chinese calendar charts to predict your baby's sex, a University of Michigan epidemiologist recommends that you hold off on painting the nursery pink or blue.

Dr. Eduardo Villamor of the U-M School of Public Health and colleagues in Sweden and Boston found that the so-called Chinese lunar calendar method of predicting a baby's sex is no more accurate than flipping a coin.

"We didn't undertake this study with the goal of being myth-busters. We were just curious about it, really," Villamor said. "But based on our results, I would not trust these predictions whatsoever."

Villamor and his colleagues reviewed records of 2.8 million Swedish births, between 1973 and 2006, to test the accuracy of the Chinese lunar calendar method. The technique involves converting the mother's age and the month of conception to dates on the Chinese lunar calendar, then plugging those dates into a chart that purportedly predicts the baby's sex.

Conversion tables and Chinese birth charts are available on numerous websites and continue to grow in popularity. The Chinese lunar calendar method is said to be based on an ancient chart that was buried in a tomb near Beijing for nearly 700 years, according to one of the websites.

"The whole thing sounds pretty nonsensical. There is no information on the rationale behind the chart and we couldn't think of a biological basis for it" said Villamor, an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health. "Even though we were skeptical, we tried to keep an open mind, and we just analyzed the data to see if there is anything to it. There isn't."

Some of the Chinese lunar calendar websites claim accuracy rates of up to 93 percent. But when Villamor and his colleagues compared the Swedish records to the charts' predictions, they found that the Chinese charts were correct about 50 percent of the time—the same chance agreement rate you'd get from flipping a fair coin.

"We found that the accuracy of the Chinese lunar calendar method for the prediction of a baby's sex leaves much to be desired," the authors wrote in an article scheduled to be published in the May edition of the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

"We conclude that the CLC method is no better to predict the sex of a baby than tossing a coin and advise against painting the nursery based on this method's result," the authors stated.

In addition to Villamor, the study authors were Sven Cnattingius and Tobias Svensson of the Karolinska Institute and Hospital in Stockholm, and Louise Dekker of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Villamor's primary research focuses on using epidemiologic methods to study nutritional determinants of maternal and child health.

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

Related Stories

NASA publishes 2008 space calendar

Jan 21, 2008

The U.S. space agency has published a calendar that highlights 50 years of its milestones, including the first decade of the International Space Station.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

billyswong
5 / 5 (1) May 26, 2010
What's that baby's sex forecasting? I am a Chinese and I have never heard of that. Must be invention of you westerners.
KBK
1 / 5 (1) May 26, 2010
Actually, it's an invention by a very clever Chinese man, I suspect! No slight intended, anyone could have done a similar thing depending on the country of origin. The smart part was exporting it based on an external society's fascination with the given exotic culture. Read up on the character 'Grey Wolf' as an example.

In most cases, no prompting is required, the given society catches wind (however tiny the wind may be) of the new thingie and then absorbs it wholesale as being the height of fashion. Happens all the time.

It sounds like it is based on astrology but real astrology requires considerably more information than this simple bit here. This I know from investigating and dealing with astrology for over 10 years, in depth.

I've never found any bit, or branch, or whatever, where someone or some astrology method predicts any baby's sex to a 'T'. There are probabilities, yes, but no hard lines that one should be betting farms on.

More news stories

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published ...