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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Pregnancy Health & Fitness

Finding Out Your Baby's Gender

by Katrina Wharton | November 26, 2013 12:00 AM
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The first question that will come to an expectant parent's mind after confirming pregnancy is whether the baby is a boy or a girl. However, finding out the gender isn't merely a matter of asking. You may think it's pretty straightforward; you have a sonogram and presto — gender known! Not so fast.

Ways to Determine Your Baby's Gender

The most common way is through a routine ultrasound, which is considered a non-invasive method. Another route for determining gender is by amniocentesis. And now parents have another method; a simple blood test.

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are performed not merely for the purpose of finding out the gender, although parents may be as curious as can be. These tests are done for many other reasons: to check for abnormalities in the fetus, the placenta and with the amniotic fluid, to date a pregnancy, to confirm how many fetuses are present, to check the growth of the fetus and the pregnancy, and to determine fetal position.

Most initial route ultrasounds are done, according to the Mayo Clinic, early in the first trimester to date the pregnancy, and again later in the pregnancy, typically between 18 and 20 weeks.

According to a 2006 study published in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, sonograms performed at between 12 and 14 weeks gestation yielded a correct gender assignment of a female 91.5 percent of the time, versus the correct gender assignment of a boy over 99 percent of the time.

Sometimes babies just get a bit shy during an ultrasound and try what you may, the fetus will not cooperate and let the technician get a direct shot of the goods. If a baby isn't in a proper position to view the genitalia, little can be done — except wait. You can't get another sonogram just to satiate your curiosity, either. If another ultrasound isn't indicated for medical reasons, you will just have to be surprised at the delivery.

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine has issued caution regarding prenatal ultrasounds with their statement, "The use of either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound to... determine the fetal sex without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice."

Amniocentesis

If amniocentesis is done, it is typically performed during the second trimester around the 15th week. It is absolutely certain in determining gender, but is used when testing is determined to be medically indicated to check for chromosomal abnormalities. Amniocentesis is considered an invasive test and does carry a low risk of miscarriage or other complications.

Blood Tests to Determine Gender

A new method exists for today's parents to determine gender, and its use early in pregnancy and relative ease and non-invasive nature makes it attractive. The blood test can be done in the 7th week of pregnancy or later and according to an August 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association are pretty reliable. The tests are found to be highly accurate as long as done no earlier than the 7th week and if they used blood rather than urine samples for the testing. Accuracy is at about 95 percent at 7 weeks and near 99 percent at 20 weeks.

The tests are available at retailers and online. One such test, Pink or Blue, costs about for the initial test, but additional lab fees and shipping bring the costs up to around 0.

Weighing the Options

While you may be dying to know whether to decorate the nursery with a girl or boy theme, you may have to live with the agony of not knowing your baby's gender until the birth. You certainly wouldn't want to have an amniocentesis done just for gender determination unless there is a sex-linked disease at play in your family. You won't be allowed to have an ultrasound just to find out if it's a boy or girl, and to pursue a 3D sonogram at a commercial site has its own dangers and moral questions besides the fact that they are also no guarantee of gender determination. Should you try for a blood test at home to find out the baby's sex, you still won't know 100 percent. If you don't get an answer, don't paint the nursery yet, and save the tags on any gender specific clothing. Also, go ahead a pick a name out for both a girl and a boy — just in case!

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