While some parents decide to wait to find out their their baby’s sex, others are keen to know as quickly as possible. Now, a team in the Tufts University Med school have found a simple blood test that can provide early and accurate results, according to various media reports.
Testing for small bits of the male sex chromosome within the mother’s blood reveals if a mother is carrying an infant boy as early as seven weeks into the pregnancy. Researchers also said the exam may be particularly valuable for families that harbor sex-linked genetic disorders like hemophilia.
“It could lessen the number of invasive procedures which are being performed for specific genetic conditions,” study author Dr. Diana Bianchi told Reuters and The Daily Mail.
Because such disorders mostly strike boys, understanding that the baby is a girl could spare mom diagnostic procedures, such as amniocentesis, that have a small chance of miscarriage. A couple might be concerned, for example, when they already have one child with this type of disorder, USA Today’s Liz Szabo reports.
Less than 1 % of couples are in high-risk of these rare disorders, Joseph Biggio, director from the Trimester Genetics Screening Clinic at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, who wasn’t active in the new study, told Szabo.
Early sex tests are used routinely within the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Spain currently, and some companies market them straight to consumers on the internet, Bianchi says.
US hospitals generally don’t offer them. However, because the tests require sophisticated labs and with pristine conditions, to avoid contaminating liquid blood samples, says James Goldberg of the California Pacific Clinic in Bay area. Even though the tests aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Goldberg predicts this may change, as the tests become widespread.
The technology raises serious ethical concerns, Arthur Caplan, director from the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told Szabo. Female fetuses are commonly aborted in India, he says.
A recent analysis in The Lancet estimates that between 4.Two million and 12.1 million female fetuses were “selectively” aborted in India from 1980 to 2010, a practice that’s noticeably skewing the ratio of girls and boys in that country.
“What you have to consider may be the ethics of the,” explains Dr. Mary Rosser in the Montefiore Clinic in New York. “If parents are utilizing it to find out gender and then terminate the pregnancy according to that, that could be a problem. Remember, gender is not a disease.”
The study is published within the currrent issue of JAMA.