Today by spending just $ 200 you can determine the sex of the baby in just eight weeks into pregnancy. There are countless companies offering sex determination tests in the market today but experts But experts are not only skeptical about the accuracy of such tests, they are also worried about the possible adverse psychological impact on parents.
Jolene Sodano had two sons and wanted her third child to be a girl preferably. She ordered a test called Tell Me Pink or Blue. It promised her an answer just eight weeks into her pregnancy. Sodano, pricked her finger, dripped a few drops of blood on a special paper strip and shipped it off to the manufacturer's California lab. In return, Sodano received a certificate, bordered in blue that said: "Congratulations, you're having a boy."
There are many such companies in the market now that claim they can tell the sex of the baby as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy. There is also a test called CVS, they take out amniotic fluid at 9 weeks to test for diseases and they can test that fluid as well to determine the sex and it is just as accurate as the amniocentisis through the stomach.
These new methods which have no regulatory control are disturbing indeed. This can result in the termination of pregnancies in cases where the sex of the baby is not according to preference. There are still doubts on the accuracy of the tests. The experts are also concerned about the psychological aspect of these tests. If you have bonded with the fetus thinking it's a boy and it turns out to be girl there could be negativity in the mind set.
It's sort of a Wild West out there," says medical geneticist Diana Bianchi of the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. "We've been tracking their websites to see what they're selling," she says. "They're basically quoting articles from my lab and other people's labs. They're kind of using smoke and mirrors to say that these tests are scientific."
Bianchi has spent more than 20 years studying the movement of fetal cells and nucleic acids between the fetus and its mother. Fetal stem cells and white blood cells can remain in the mother's blood for decades, which means the fetal cells found in a pregnant woman's blood could be from a prior pregnancy, Bianchi says.
Bianchi and Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., note that no government agency regulates the tests, so there's no quality control.
"These tests sort of shine a spotlight on inadequacies across the whole area of genetic tests," Hudson says.
Jesse Reynolds, a policy analyst at the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, argues that "there are sex-selective abortions throughout the world. We shouldn't simply dismiss this as a problem that's 'over there.' "
In spite of the new test confirming that the baby was going to be a boy and coming to terms with it, Jolene Sodano had a gut feeling that it was a girl that was growing inside her womb. She went in for an ultra sound eight weeks after receiving the first test result. Her gut feeling proved right she was indeed having a girl and not a boy as determined by the earlier test.
Lily Nguyen, product manager for Tell Me Pink or Blue at Consumer Genetics in Sunnyvale, Calif., says nearly 2,000 pregnant women have taken the test since its launch in May 2006.
About 30 including Sodano have received refunds for a wrong answer. Nguyen speculates that Sodano's result was incorrect because her blood sample was contaminated with her husband's or sons' DNA, although Sodano says she was careful to avoid that.
But there are many companies that do give accurate determination.
A class-action suit against Baby Gender Mentor's maker, Acu-Gen Biolab of Lowell, Mass., has been filed in Massachusetts Federal District Court. More than 100 plaintiffs say Acu-Gen refused to give refunds for their inaccurate results. The company declined to comment on the case.