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December 7, 2004


A new study suggests that women who take amphetamine-based diet pills when pregnant are more likely to have lesbian and gay children.
Expectant mothers who have taken thyroid medication are also included, with similar findings.
Conducted by the Minot State University, North Dakota, the study followed more than 5,000 mothers and their offspring. The research will be published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Researchers found that mothers of lesbian women were five times more likely to have taken thyroid medications in the early stages of their pregnancies than those of heterosexual women. Additionally, they were nearly eight times more likely to have taken amphetamine-based diet pills.
Conversely, mothers of straight men were 70 percent more likely to have taken anti-nausea drugs than those of gay men.
Professor Lee Ellis, one of the researchers for the study, said that the data backs claims that sexuality is determined in the womb through a variety of genetic and biochemical chain reactions, the Telegraph reports.
"These analyses support the conclusion that female offspring are more vulnerable to alterations in sexual orientation via exposure to a variety of prescription drugs, and suggest that this vulnerability is greatest during the first trimester," Ellis told the newspaper.
Others pointed to the movement of nutrients and chemicals from the mother to the baby in the womb.
"All drugs can cross the placental barrier and, looking back, we weren't so aware of what was going on inside the womb," Professor Jim Dornan, the vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Telegraph.
It is not the first study to look to claim sexual orientation is decided in the womb, with recent investigations pointing to blink patterns, genetics and brain patterns as deciding factors.
However, some gay activists are keen for the nature-or-nurture debate to be dropped in favor of a more sophisticated debate on equality.
"It does not really matter whether it is nature or nurture. The important thing is getting equality for lesbian and gay people,” Stonewall's Alan Wardle said.
Professor Eliis is now calling for a larger study to take place in the near future.

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