INTRODUCTION: Since the 1980s, sex ratio at birth (male births per 100 female births) has increased in many Asian countries as a result of selective abortions, but to date there has been no such evidence for Viet Nam. Our aim in this paper is to ascertain the situation with respect to sex ratio at birth in Viet Nam over the past five years. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Original data were obtained from sample population surveys in Viet Nam recording annual birth rates since 2000 of about 450,000 women, as well as from two successive birth surveys conducted for the first time in 2007 (1.1 million births). The annual population surveys include specific information on birth history and mothers' characteristics to be used for the analysis of trends and differentials in sex ratio at birth. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Birth history statistics indicate that the SRB in Viet Nam has recorded a steady growth since 2001. Starting from a level probably close to the biological standard of 105, the SRB reached 108 in 2005 and 112 in 2006, a value significantly above the normal level. An independent confirmation of these results comes from the surveys of births in health facilities which yielded a SRB of 110 in 2006-07. High SRB is linked to various factors such as access to modern health care, number of prenatal visits, level of higher education and employment status, young age, province of residence and prenatal sex determination. These results suggest that prenatal sex determination followed by selective abortion has recently become more common in Viet Nam. This recent trend is a consequence of various factors such as preference for sons, declining fertility, easy access to abortion, economic development as well as the increased availability of ultrasonography facilities.
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