By Stephanie Guler - Senior Content & Social Media Developer | August 10th, 2011
During the early stages of pregnancy, many parents-to-be will often hear this question: Are you having a boy or a girl?
Generally, patients learn the gender of their baby (if they choose to do so) by ultrasound at the end of the first trimester, but now there’s a test that can tell much sooner.
Yesterday, Dr. Diana Bianchi and a team of researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine reported that a simple blood test can accurately determine a baby’s sex as early as 7 weeks.
The procedure involves taking blood from the pregnant mother and searches for fragments of the male sex chromosome in her blood. The presence of these chromosomes would mean that she is having a boy.
The test is called cell-free fetal DNA, and while it’s not available in the United States, some hospitals in Europe are already using it.
In their report, the researchers highlighted that the test could be very beneficial for families that carry sex-related genetic disorders. Although there are procedures already available, like amniocentesis, that test for these health issues, they are quite invasive and come with a risk of miscarriage.
Dr. Bianchi told Reuters Health that the cell-free fetal DNA test “could reduce the number of invasive procedures that are being performed for specific genetic conditions.”
When you consider the current procedure, which involves withdrawing amniotic fluid from the abdomen with a very long needle, it’s easy to see why more women would choose a quick and easy blood test to determine if her baby needs further testing or not.
The study, which looked at a total of 57 previous studies (more than 6,500 pregnancies), found that the blood test was 98.8 percent accurate for boys and 94.8 percent accurate for girls; much more precise than an ultrasound.
From the research, the scientists saw a lot of positive potential for this new test. “I don’t know why it is not being incorporated in the US,” said Dr. Bianchi.
Dr. Mary Rosser, an OB/GYN at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York told Reuters Health, “What you have to consider is the ethics of this. If parents are using it to determine gender and then terminate the pregnancy based on that, that could be a problem. Remember, gender is not a disease.”
These concerns spark thoughts about the current female “gendercide” happening in other parts of the world. Male-favoring countries like India, China, and Armenia are notorious for aborting, killing or abandoning babies, just because they are female.
Male-female sex ratios are becoming more and more off balance in these countries, and many experts fear this already tragic situation could spiral into an even worse social catastrophe.
The findings of this blood test study bring about the very same fears that even more pregnancies will be aborted just because of a couple’s preference of a certain gender.
Dr. Rosser said, “It is a great test that can be part of our armamentarium of non-invasive testing that we use, but it should only be used by families that are at risk for sex-linked diseases.”
This article was written by the medical research team at WhereismyDoctor.com
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