Before science came to be the norm for baby gender tests, expectant couples could only rely on unscientific techniques and methods which have today been disproved and come to be referred as myths or old wives’ tales. Modern science has now taken over and several more reliable and scientific methods are available to help determine the sex of the unborn child. It is in fact possible to have an ultrasound scan or a DNA test in order to detect the gender with high levels of accuracy.
Are you having a baby boy or baby girl?
Males have 23 pairs of XY chromosomes and females have 23 pairs of XX chromosomes. The Y chromosome encodes for males characteristics and is only carried by males. Thus, it is clear that males are the one who determine the gender of the baby as they can pass on either the Y chromosome or the X chromosome. Females can only pass on an X chromosome.
In order to have a baby gender DNA test or an ultrasound scan the expectant mother needs to wait until at least the second trimester. Many expecting mothers can end up feeling quite impatient to discover the gender of their baby and might choose a gender prediction method such as the cabbage test or the Chinese calendar – two very popular methods of gender prediction. These tests however, only offer an accuracy of 50%. This percentage is not based on any hard science but on the simple fact that all women have a 50% chance of conceiving a girl and a 50% chance of conceiving a boy.
The latest and most accurate way to determine the gender of your baby is through a DNA test. By submitting a DNA sample to a laboratory scientists are able to determine the sex of your baby by testing the fetal DNA in the maternal blood sample. Samples can be collected by a medical blood draw but most tests will only require a simple finger prick.
The latter method, using a finger prick, is far more convenient as it does not require any professional assistance for the sample collection unlike a medical blood draw which can only be done by a qualified medical professional. Leading online/ e-commerce DNA testing companies offering baby gender test using blood include www.gtldna.co.uk, www.homeDNAdirect.com, and others.
Analysis of either sample is carried out through a process known as Polymerase chain reaction or PCR which enables scientists to confirm the presence of the Y chromosome in the sample.
PCR is the most recent method for DNA analysis
and has many advantages over more traditional methods of DNA analysis – mainly the fact that polymerase chain reaction makes it possible for scientists to work with very small DNA samples because it amplifies the regions of DNA that it targets. It also has the added advantage of making possible DNA extraction on very old samples that are hundreds or even thousands of years old (although this type of advanced PCR is usually not offered by e-commerce companies).
When it comes to analyzing the blood to establish a baby’s gender, the presence of the Y chromosome would confirm that the mother is expecting a boy; if no Y chromosome is detected, then the baby is a girl. A baby gender test using blood samples is 95% accurate and can be carried out as early as the 9th week of pregnancy. This makes it more accurate than an ultrasound and can be done earlier in pregnancy.
It might be worth discussing one very common baby gender testing method which we can shelf along with other old wives’ tales: The cabbage test. This remains indeed popular amongst expectant mothers who find the test amusing, often not knowing that the test has been totally disproved by scientists.
Red cabbage gender test - boy or girl?
The procedure is simple: bring 450ml of water to a boil with half a head of chopped red cabbage for 11 minutes and mix it with the expectant mother’s urine. The resulting color change should supposedly indicate the gender of the baby. The solution supposedly changes color depending on whether it’s a boy or a girl. A Red solution means it’s a boy whilst pink water means that it’s a girl. The problem is with the color change itself as it is often not quite distinct or clear-cut and different people often interpret the color change differently.
No medical expert has given a conclusive opinion regarding the cabbage gender test and no evidence has been found to support the claims made by advocates of this test. Many doctors have noted however, that women have varying PHs and that it is the acidity of the urine that determines the color change. There is no hard evidence proving that the PH in a pregnant woman changes according to the gender of the baby.
One would think that the main reason for baby gender testing is in fact curiosity and early planning – whilst this is true, it is not always the case. There can be rare cases where a gender test can be used for medical purposes.
Some diseases are sex-linked which means they are known to affect individuals of one sex but not the other. In some families, there could be a genetic predisposition to a sex linked disease which would affect the child. Examples of sex-linked genetic diseases include muscular dystrophy, fragile-X syndrome and hemophilia. All these diseases are inherited by males and the defective gene is passed on by the mother. Males can inherit the defective gene but not be affected – in this case, they will pass on the gene to their daughters who will be carriers.
Baby gender testing can be used in such cases to determine whether the baby is male or female. If the mother knows she carries the gene for one of the male inherited diseases, she may wish to seek the help of a councilor following the results of a baby gender test to determine the risk of unborn male baby suffering from the condition. In some cases, she may choose to terminate the pregnancy as some diseases, such a muscular dystrophy, mean that child will die in their teens or early twenties – a prospect which some parents may find too difficult.
Gender selection is practiced in many countries and is a part of a culture or social practice that is tacitly or overtly accepted. Even where it is not legal, people still commonly practice gender selection terminating pregnancies which they know will result in the birth of a baby of the undesired sex. Other countries legally are allowed to practice preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which, besides allowing couples to determine whether embryos are at risk of certain diseases, can also be used for gender selection.
On a concluding note, cravings, Drano test, and the Chinese calendar are just three more baby gender testing methods that fall under the broad heading “myths and old wives’ tales”. For those mothers who want tangible and reliable answers, a DNA based baby gender test would be the ideal solution.