A study suggests having a son triggers a physical reaction in a mother making it more likely boys will grow up to be gay.
The research finding was triggered by one of the unexplained quirks of biology: the older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. Scientists claim having a male child triggers an immune reaction in the mother that can alter the brain of the growing baby.
The authors stress that several factors are involved in explaining sexuality, but say the immune response helps to explain something that has long puzzled scientists.
Toronto University published their study in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.’
‘Our study is a major advance in understanding the origins of sexual orientation in men by providing support for a theorized but previously unexamined biological mechanism—a maternal immune response to a protein important in male fetal brain development,’ they say.
They add the research begins ‘to explain one of the most reliable correlates of male homosexuality: older brothers.’
It is estimated to be around 3% for any male son to be gay. However, for someone who has three older brothers, the chance doubles to 6%.
Girls have two X chromosomes, the genes that dictate a child’s biological sex, boys have an X and a Y chromosome. The ‘Y’ chromosome creates the biological differences that make a child male that triggers an immune reaction in a mother.
A woman’s response to having a baby boy is when her body reacts against the Y chromosome and creates an antibody called anti-NLGN4Y.
Antibodies are a reaction to ‘foreign’ bodies invading the body, in this case, a male embryo.
Once a woman delivers a son, she builds up a large supply of the antibody which can affect the brain development in later male children.
The authors of the study are careful to point out the link between the antibody, and the brain structure is an association, but not proof.
They suspect ‘some mothers develop antibodies against a Y-linked protein important in male brain development.’
They add: ‘This effect becomes increasingly likely with each male gestation, altering brain structures underlying sexual orientation in their later-born sons.’
The authors write: ‘after statistically controlling for some pregnancies, mothers of gay sons, particularly those with older brothers, had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than did the control samples of women, including mothers of heterosexual sons.’
The authors say that their findings ‘suggest an association between a maternal immune response to NLGN4Y and subsequent sexual orientation in male offspring.’
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”