It is now possible to determine the sex of a baby via a blood test. But there is also a worry that the number of abortions will rise as a consequence of parents knowing this information.
There has been some scepticism that the blood tests used to determine the sex of a baby were infallible. They maybe, but scientists believe they work well enough to enable predictions to be made more accurately.
However knowing this has led to some feeling that if the test comes out with a result that the parents don’t want, then they may opt to abort.
The research itself is a result of painstaking analysis of other medical research – 57 reports in fact, involving gender studies, and covering more than 6,000 pregnancies. While ignoring self testing kits sent to consumers, the researchers did examine the results obtained from a test called PCR which detects genetic material in the mother’s bloodstream, in particular the Y chromosome.
The researchers found prediction rates were 95% accurate when women were tested after 7 weeks of pregnancy. This is over one month earlier than normal tests such as amniocentesis and ultrasound.
Interestingly, when they compared these results with those carried out on urine, the latter results were found to be very inaccurate.
While this is great news for women who are at risk of giving birth to babies with sex-linked genetic disorders, scientists do point out that knowing the results so early could put pressure on a woman to have an abortion.
They also raised concerns at the prospect that parents may embark on sex selection. As such, they recommend that when parents buy gender detection tests they should be asked what they plan to do with the results.
But selling kits to consumers has been criticised. When asked about potential problems, one doctor said: “I would have a lot of difficulties offering such a test just for gender identification. My concern is this is ultimately going to be available in malls or shopping centres.”
His fears could be well founded as it is known that many Indian women who find they are having a daughter rather than a son choose to abort the foetus.