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Fetal Sex Determination: Is It a Right or Privilege?

When Padma Lakshmi, the celebrity host of the cooking show, Top Chef, declined to reveal the gender of her unborn baby on a talk show, she represented an exception to the rule among pregnant women: most want to know what they’re having and share the news with the rest of the world.

Women under age 30 still have a difficult time believing that pregnant women once had children without knowing the gender of their baby until birth. In the age of 4-D ultrasounds performed in strip malls, and genetic home DNA testing, such a thought appears to be obsolete. Baby showers and baby room preparations are the most common reasons for ultrasound requests by patients although these reasons are not FDA approved. However, most non-medical ultrasound companies have convenient amnesia when it comes to adhering to this rule.

Well now the “home gender DNA test” has made things even more confusing for vulnerable expectant families. These tests assert to have the ability to predict the sex of the unborn child as early as ten weeks gestation and within ten minutes of taking the test. The companies claim that the test has a special secret formula (aka proprietary mix of chemicals) that turns the urine green if it’s a boy and orange if it’s a girl. The accuracy alleged from various companies is between 80 to 90 percent but most recommend obtaining an ultrasound for final confirmation.

Karen Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times wrote an informative article Old Wives ’Tale Redux regarding the challenges and effects home gender DNA tests had on expectant mothers including the class action suits that ensued because of incorrect results. The tests are expensive with a wide margin for error and exploitation.

So, what’s a mother to do? The use of the colors yellow, white or mint green still works well. Learning whether you’re having a boy or girl should not be nearly as important as safeguarding the health of your unborn child.

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