In the wake of public criticism of an advertisement on Taobao that was said to tout sex selection, experts dismissed the idea that alkaline foods or supplements can help women give birth to boys.
The ad on the e-commerce platform read: "What should you do if you have given birth to a girl? Use Jianyunbao while preparing to have a second child."
Critics said the ad for Jianyunbao, a food supplement that claims to boost alkalinity in the body, discriminated against girls and suggested a preference for boys.
Alibaba, which operates the platform, apologised on Friday and said it had failed to inspect properly to prevent the ad from appearing and admitted the ad had elements of sex discrimination.
The company said it had removed the ad and punished the owner of the store.