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Blood Test Baby's Sex After 7 Weeks

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Published: August 10, 2021

A simple blood test can determine a baby's sex after 7 weeks of conception, about 6 weeks earlier than an ultrasound. The test may be particularly valuable for families that harbor sex-linked genetic disorders like hemophilia, according to a new study. Parents can trust the test 98.8 percent of the time.

"It could reduce the number of invasive procedures that are being performed for specific genetic conditions," said Dr. Diana Bianchi of Tufts University School of Medicine, who worked on the new study.

Doctors in Europe now routinely use the tests to help expectant parents whose offspring are at risk for rare gender-linked disorders determine whether they need invasive and costly genetic testing. Boys are more vulnerable to the disorders then girls. But doctors in the U.S. generally have not prescribed the tests because they are unregulated and medical labs are not yet federally certified to use them.

It could also just give curious parents an earlier answer to what the gender of their child will be. However, other researchers voiced concerns, saying it could be misused to terminate a pregnancy if the baby isn't of the desired sex. "What you have to consider is the ethics of this," said Dr. Mary Rosser, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

"If parents are using it to determine gender and then terminate the pregnancy based on that, that could be a problem," she said in a statement. "Remember, gender is not a disease."

Researhers found parents could trust the test 98.8 percent of the time when it said they'd have a boy, and 94.8 percent of the time when it indicated a girl. That leaves some room for error, which could be important if parents are making medical decisions based on the results, such as whether or not to get an invasive procedure to look for genetic disorders. However, the current non-invasive alternative -- an ultrasound done at the end of the first trimester -- isn't always good at spotting a baby's sex, Bianchi's team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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