Pregnancy

New Blood Test Reveals Baby’s Sex At Seven Weeks

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So everyone’s buzzing about this new blood test for expectant mothers that can determine the sex of a baby at around seven weeks. Apparently, these tests have been available to order online for a few years, but scientists just got around to confirming that they are indeed reasonably accurate.

Personally, I’m a planner so I wanted to know the sex of both of my kids as early as I could in pregnancy, but I have lots of friends that have gone the old-fashioned route and waited to be surprised. Obviously, the onward march of medical science here is generally a good thing. But with great power comes great responsibility, and this development actually raises a lot of ethical questions. In fact, the Associated Press reports that the authors of the study confirming the tests effectiveness said parents “should be questioned about how they plan to use the results.” And other medical professionals have questions too:

“I would have a lot of difficulties offering such a test just for gender identification. Gender is not an abnormality,” Dr. Lee Shulman said. “My concern is this is ultimately going to be available in malls or shopping centers,” similar to companies offering “cute” prenatal ultrasound images. … 

There’s very little data on reasons for U.S. abortions or whether gender preferences or gender-detection methods play a role, said Susannah Baruch, a policy consultant for the Generations Ahead, an advocacy group that studies genetic techniques and gender issues.

Consumer Genetics, the company that makes the test, says it won’t sell the test in China out of fear that it will contribute to sex selective abortions. Now if the product could likely contributes to sex selective abortions, why would that be bad in China but ok in the U.S.?

In theory, the blood test could help parents assess risks for certain sex-related genetic disorders earlier and that could certainly help. But those are pretty rare. For everyone else, does it make much of a difference determining the sex at seven weeks versus 10 weeks? I can see why this makes doctors uneasy. Should parents be questioned about how they plan to use this test? Should you only be able to get this kind of a test from a doctor? What do you think?