Photo from www.pregnancy.about.com

Okay future moms and dads, your dream is about to come true. The National Institute of Health has recently published an article that indicated the sex of a fetus might be able to be determined as early as the first trimester, even a few days after conception based on a blood test. That’s right, a blood test.  No more invasive procedures such as an amniocentesis where a needle is inserted into the abdomen to withdraw fluid from around the baby. In the future, there will be no more chorionic villus sampling where a small sample is taken from the early placenta using a needle and inserted into the abdomen or through the cervix. Both of these procedures have a small risk (1 to 2%) of causing miscarriages and are used to detect genetic disorders. The fetal sex determination is just an added benefit.

Research in South Korea on more than 200 women was done during the first trimester by taking blood samples and testing them for 2 specific enzymes called DYS14 and GDPH. The ratio of both of these enzymes can predict whether a woman is having a boy or a girl. This will certainly take tremendous pressure off a healthcare provider who is usually bombarded with requests to have an ultrasound for fetal sex determination. Oh the challenges I had during my years in practice was trying to convince pregnant moms that an ultrasound for fetal sex determination was not a legitimate medical reason and most insurance companies simply would not pay for them. While it’s true that the sex of the fetus is determined at conception, the external genitalia (male and female parts) are not visible until approximately 18 weeks although sometimes it is seen earlier, depending on the position of the baby and the accuracy of the ultrasound.

According to the researchers, more research will be required before this test hits the market but it’s comforting to know that help is on the way. There will come a day when you’ll be able to take a pregnancy and then find out what you’re having the same day or shortly thereafter. Isn’t that exciting?

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.