Early Pregnancy Blood Test Reveals Baby's Gender
Is it a boy or a girl? For parents who can't wait to find out, the answer could someday be only a blood test away.
According to a Dutch research report, a chromosomal blood test administered as early as the seventh week of pregnancy can predict fetal gender with near-perfect accuracy.
Published in the January 2010 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study analyzed early pregnancy blood samples from approximately 200 women, looking for the presence of two genes found on the Y sex chromosome. Because only men carry the Y chromosome, researchers predicted that when these genes were found in a pregnant woman's blood sample, it most likely indicated a male fetus. When the test did not detect the genes, researchers concluded fetal gender was female.
The impressive results? These educated guesses ended up being right on the money every time—researchers' male or female gender predictions were correct for all babies.
When finding out the sex of the fetus is critical for detecting or managing certain inherited medical conditions, doctors typically rely on amniocentesis or other invasive tests to determine gender. A low-risk blood test, according to researchers, could be a better screening for such conditions as congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a genetic/hormonal disorder that affects only girls, and hemophilia and Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy, two genetic disorders almost always seen in boys. When parents are carriers of these gender-tied genetic problems, an accurate test for fetal sex tells doctors whether further, possibly invasive testing should be done—or can be safely skipped.
Sounds great, but be prepared to get on the waiting list for this one. With findings still at the preliminary stage, researchers did not indicate when, if ever, the test will be available to the general public.
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