New blood test reveals baby’s gender earlier

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 12th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ultrasound technology can reveal a baby’s gender months before birth.

That’s a great thing for expectant parents.

Sometimes, it’s less than great for doctors.

Ultrasound won’t show the baby’s gender until the second trimester.

That’s not early enough if the mother is believed to carry a harmful gender-linked condition such as hemophilia.

Early gender testing usually requires invasive procedures. They cause miscarriage in about one percent of women.

But an article in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that a new method may be a superior option.

It works like this:

A pregnant woman’s blood carries two sets of D-N-A molecules… her own, and the baby’s.

So the doctor draws a blood sample from the mother and checks it for D-N-A sequences found only in males.

If those sequences show up, the baby is a boy.

If not, it’s presumed to be a girl. But to double-check things, the doctor conducts further tests to verify the presence of fetal D-N-A.

Researchers tried the new test on about two-hundred expectant mothers.

It gave accurate results in every trial where the baby’s D-N-A was located.

However, it was inconclusive in about five percent of cases, because fetal D-N-A wasn’t located. In all those cases, girls were born.

So, the test may not be perfect. But it seems destined to take a place in prenatal care.

And who knows, maybe someday doctors will be able to confirm pregnancy and gender in one fell swoop.

That could be a medical boon for parents.

And it might make baby showers a little easier, too.