INVESTIGATION: Can mom's diet determine baby's gender?

By NBC News Channel
Published: June 14, 2011

The saying goes "you are what you eat." But does what a woman eats help determine the sex of her baby?

Plenty of websites offer diet supplements promising to deliver you a boy or girl, but do they actually work?

Joanne Yang's baby boy is coming soon and the mom-to-be believes what she ate before conception - protein and a lot of potassium - made her womb more hospitable to the XY combination that creates a boy.

If you search for proof, several websites will tell you they have the dietary secrets to select the gender of your baby - for a price.

GenSelect offers a diet plan and supplements starting at $200 for a one month supply, with full money back gender guarantee.

For a quarter of the cost, offers a similar package: a diet plan and vitamin supplements for $60 each. You can download the all-natural diet plan and follow the menu.

Nancy Reilly, the founder of the Boy girl diet, says it's been on the market for five years and has helped hundreds of couples.

"We have roughly a 95-96 percent success rate," Reilly said.

Samantha Whitman already has three sons - Gavin, Logan and Cameron.

"I just knew we had to try something different this time so we could get the girl," Whitman said.

Whitman followed the "girl" diet plan and cut out chocolate and salt and ate the recommended dairy and veggies. Baby number four is now here and HER name is Emerson.

"We cried. We both just cried. We were so excited. It was awesome," said Whitman.

Most of the plans say eating lots of calcium rich foods, tofu and lean protein will give you a girl. If you want a boy, drink milk and eat yogurt bacon, sausage, and burgers.

OBGYN Angela Pollard says she doesn't see harm in eating what's advised, but she's reluctant to recommend the supplements because vitamins aren't required to have FDA approval.

"You have to be very careful, and unless you know what's in there I'm not sure I'd be taking them," Dr. Pollard said.

Dr. Pollard said the key to this plan and others on the market are in the section about timing intercourse with ovulation early if you want a girl, and right on time if you want a boy.

"Is the sperm going to reach its mark at the time of ovulation or before or after ovulation? And that really has very little to do with the diet," Dr. Pollard said.

Dr. Pollard says ovulation timing gives you about an 80 percent chance of ending up with pink or blue - not quite the success rate claimed by the diet plans, but she says it's the plan with the most research behind it.

For the Yang family, the anecdotal evidence is enough to change their eating habits for baby number two, so mom can have a girl.

You're advised to always check with your doctor before you try any new diet plan, especially if you're trying to get pregnant. Too much of certain vitamins and minerals can have a negative impact on ovulation.