Baby’s Gender at 7th Week

There exists a relatively simple and astonishingly accurate gender-detecting blood test for those expectant parents who are eager to know if they are going to have a boy or a girl, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals.

The test has been around for several years, easily purchased online, although doctors mostly refrain from offering it. A recent research has shown that the test, to be taken at about the seventh week of pregnancy, is really highly reliable.

Starting from the seventh week the presence of tiny male sex chromosome particles in the mother’s blood is detected which indicates that the mother is pregnant with a baby boy. The method is known as cell-free fetal DNA and costs in the vicinity of £250. In Europe it is available in many hospitals, but not in the United States for the time being, so Americans can only order it online.

In a series of researches, Dr. Diana Bianchi and her colleagues from the Tufts University School of Medicine went through over 6,500 cases and compiled the results of more than 50 previous studies. Their statistics show that the test is 98.8 per cent trustworthy when it is a boy and 94.8 per cent trustworthy in case of a girl. It is far more accurate than the current non-invasive ultrasound test for which parents have to wait for three months into the pregnancy.

The researchers pointed out that the cell-free fetal DNA can be particularly useful to establish the sex of the child for families in which hemophilia and other sex-linked genetic disorders run. Boys being especially vulnerable to such diseases, should the mother know in good time that she is bearing a girl, she could do away with some diagnostic procedures like amniocentesis that might interfere with the natural processes of pregnancy.

Dr. Bianchi stated in the article that the use of the test could render unnecessary some gender-stipulated invasive procedures in which doctors take samples of the fluid around the fetus; these procedures carry a small risk of miscarriage. ‘What they are finding in England is that many women are not going on to have the invasive tests,’ Dr. Bianchi writes.

The problems envisaged in connection with the test are that its results could induce some parents to terminate a pregnancy upon knowing they are going to have a baby of the wrong sex. “Gender is not a disease,” reminds Dr. Mary Rosser from the Montefiore Medical Center, NYC, commenting on possible repercussions. She said the very accuracy of the cell-free fetal DNA may increase the cases when parents will be using it unethically – to determine gender with a possible termination of the pregnancy in mind in attempts to have a child of a certain sex.

Dr. Bianchi admitted to owning stock in Verinata Health, a private company that is engaged in Down syndrome targeted use of cell-free fetal DNA tests.

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