High Tech Gender SelectionKatlyn Joy |26, July 2010
Pink or blue? For most parents, finding out the baby's gender is part of the excitement of expecting a new baby. Will it be a girl or boy? However, for some parents the gender of their child is a concern. Perhaps they have had four sons already and really just want a girl this last time. However, the most serious reason for parents to seek out high tech gender selection techniques is due to a genetic disease which affects only one gender. For instance hemophilia and muscular dystrophy will be passed on to sons, not daughters.
High tech gender selection options all involve ART or Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or artificial insemination. These procedures are all rather expensive, however the more involved and technical the assistance, the more expensive the procedure.
This method separate sperm into girl-producing sperm and boy-producing sperm. The desired gender sperm is separated and artificially inseminated. Related types of high-tech gender selection are called sperm spinning as they typically use a centrifuge to separate the sperm types.
Ericsson claims accuracy in somewhere around 73-85 percent of cases, but experts put the process at closer to 50 percent, or about the same as those for couples who used no technology. It costs several hundred dollars per insemination.
Another high-tech gender selection method is Microsort. This technique also called flow cytometry, sorts sperm using a special fluorescent dye on the girl or x sperm which are supposed to be larger than boy-producing y sperm. This method has a high success rate, in the range of 90 percent for girls and 74 percent for boys.
Sometimes women take fertility drugs as part of the process, which increases the chances of side effects. The process then involves artificial insemination which has a success rate of ending in pregnancy approximately 17 percent for each cycle. It costs about 00 per treatment cycle.
Microsort has requirements for parents, for instance the mother or egg donor must be 39 or younger, married, have a child of one gender and want one of the other gender, or have a genetic disease concern. It may be used along with IVF or PGD.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD uses in vitro fertilization. An embryo is created in a lab and then tested thoroughly for genetic disorders and gender. It is 100 percent effective at producing a child of specified gender. It was introduced in 1989 for parents who had genetic disorders and concerned about passing those along to a child. It is also used for older mothers, or those with a history of multiple miscarriages. Only a few clinics use PGD for non-medical reasons.
PGD uses IVF for implantation, and usually implants two embryos for younger mothers and four or so for older mothers. It costs around ,000 per cycle.
Preimplantation genetic haplotyping (PGH)
Preimplantation genetic haplotyping, or PGH is a variation of PGD which involves more advanced technology. It is newer, with the first babies from the procedure born in 2006. It is typically only used by parents with serious genetic illnesses in their families. Essentially, the embryos are tested by looking at genetic DNA markers. The costs are similar to, but more expensive, than PGD.
While high-tech gender selection is becoming more readily accessible to couples with the financial means to pursue it, many medical ethicists are raising questions about the future and the possibility of so-called "designer babies." For those with medical issues, gender selection may be the only way they can consider having a child. For those with a number of children of one sex, gender selection offers the opportunity to have a child of the other sex and complete their families.Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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