New Blood Test Predicts Babys Sex Earlier
August 10, 2011 by staff
New Blood Test Predicts Babys Sex Earlier, New technologies can tell pregnant women if they are having a boy or a girl at seven weeks pregnant – months earlier than usual, according to a study in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. While the technology could help families at high risk of having a baby with rare genetic diseases.
Some experts also worry that couples could take advantage of the blood test to abort a fetus based on gender. The technology works by detecting “cell-free fetal DNA,” or the fetal DNA, which floats freely in the blood of a pregnant woman, she says Diana Bianchi, School of Medicine at Tufts University in Boston.
Theiranlysis of 57 studies from medical journals showed that these blood tests, common in Europe but not in the U.S., can reveal the sex of the fetus only one or two weeks after a pregnant woman does not menstruate. Women tend to know the sex by ultrasound, 18 to 20 weeks.
The tests will help to families concerned about having a child with rare genetic disorders that usually only affect children, such as hemophilia or a type of muscular dystrophy, says Joseph Biggio, director of the Clinical Screening Genetics, University quarter Alabama-Birmingham, who was not involved in the study. A couple may be involved, for example, if you have a child with this disorder. Less than 1% of couples at high risk for these rare diseases, Biggio said.
If you are having a girl, however, can stop worrying, he says, and avoid invasive testing, which can provide a definitive answer about genetic disorders, but also increase the risk of miscarriage. Women who learn they are carrying children still need a definitive test such as amniocentesis to see if their fetus is affected.
These early blood tests may also help some women avoid the need drug treatment, given to pregnant women whose fetuses are prone to suffer from a rare condition that causes birth defects, says Bianchi. Although medications can help these children develop normally, medications may have other serious side effects for mother and child, Biggio said. Women who learn they are carrying children, however, could stop treatment, because the disease does not affect children.
The first evidence of sex is commonly used in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Spain, and some companies sell directly to consumers online, says Bianchi. U.S. Hospitals not generally offered. However, because the tests require sophisticated laboratories and in pristine condition, to avoid contamination of blood samples, says James Goldberg of the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Although the Food and Drug Administration do not regulate the tests, Goldberg predicts that this may change as the increasingly popular tests.
Bianchi did not assess applications for mail order and Internet companies, and says there is no way that consumers know if their results are reliable. She noted that one company offering the kits went out of business after being beaten with the demands of disappointed customers, who said he has inaccurate results.
The technology raises serious ethical concerns, says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Female fetuses are aborted in India generally, he says. Ananlysis of May in the journal The Lancet estimated that between 4.2 million and 12.1 million female fetuses are “selectively” aborted in India since 1980-2010, a practice that is significantly skew the proportion of children in that country.
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