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In vitro pioneer Landrum Shettles

The native of Pontotoc, Miss., co-wrote the million-selling book "Your Baby's Sex: Now You Can Choose" in 1970.

By CRAIG BASSE, Times Obituaries Editor
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dr. Landrum B. Shettles, who created a splash with his promise to teach prospective parents how to pick their baby's gender, has died at 93.

Dr. Shettles, an obstetrician-gynecologist who was an acknowledged pioneer in the field of in vitro fertilization, died Thursday (Feb. 6, 2003) at Northside Hospital and Heart Institute.

In 1970, with David Rorvik, he wrote Your Baby's Sex; Now You Can Choose. Said to have sold more than 1-million copies, it remains available in paperback under the title How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby.

He gave detailed instructions, according to a 1999 account in the New York Times, about the timing of intercourse (three days before ovulation for a girl, the day of ovulation for a boy) and about sexual positions and whether or not the woman should have an orgasm.

For his part, Dr. Shettles claimed a success rate of at least 75 percent for both sexes, a number he based largely on the more than 25,000 questionnaires returned to him over the years by readers of his book, the Times account said.

Dr. Shettles, who came here in 2001 from Las Vegas, was credited with developing similar procedures to those that led to the birth in 1978 in England of the world's first test-tube baby.

Landrum Brewer Shettles was born in Pontotoc, Miss. With a bachelor's degree from Mississippi College, he went on to earn a master of science, a doctorate and medical degree from Johns Hopkins University.

In 1951, he became a resident physician at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

Survivors include four daughters, Susan Charleston, Cambridge, Mass.; Lana Callahan, St. Petersburg; Abbie Shettles, Pittsfield, Mass.; and Frances Shettles, Baltimore; three sons, Brewer, New York; David, Beaverton, Ore.; and Harold, Salem, Conn.; a sister, Mildred McCarver, Ecru, Miss.; 11 grandchildren; and a great grandchild.

Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes & Cremation Tribute Center-McLeod Chapel, is in charge.

-- Information from the New York Daily News was used in this obituary.

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