The question that nags at the back of the mind of a would-be mother is: Is it a boy or a girl? For years, prospective parents have tried many different methods just to answer that question, but nothing proves to be the golden standard of sex determination in utero. As of today, a new method has emerged, one that proves to determine the sex of a baby prenatally for as early as seven weeks of gestation. This is earlier than traditional methods such as an ultrasound and amniocentesis while in a safe and risk-free way: the blood test for baby gender.

New research has proved that traces of fetal genetic material that are found in a pregnant woman’s blood can provide information on the baby’s sex as well as his/her well-being (e.g. presence or absence of a gender-linked disease). The test will search the mother’s blood for the presence of a Y chromosome genetic markers which will determine whether her child is male or female. If the Y chromosome is present, then the fetus is a male, otherwise a female.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found out that cell-free fetal DNA predictions of fetal sex is 94.8% accurate in predicting a male child and 98.9% accurate if it’s a female, if the test is carried out between seven to twelve weeks. After that, the accuracy of the test increases, until such time when it is near perfect.

The blood test for baby gender not only determines the unborn child’s sex, it also aids in determining genetic or sex-linked disorders that the baby might have. Rare genetic disorders, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and haemophilia, which are only found in males, can be detected and the results used to determine whether or not it is safe to continue with the pregnancy.

It is emphasised though that the blood test for baby gender should not be used for mere gender selection, which is why testing kits are not sold in countries such as China and India, who place huge value on male children (female foetuses are then aborted by mothers).  Even customers outside of these countries who express an interest in gender selection should be denied the test. If a mother wants to conceive a child of a specific sex, then there are guidelines to follow that would increase the likelihood of getting either a male or female baby. A pregnant mother whose pregnancy poses a threat to her life is advisable to undergo abortion, so aborting for any other reason than that, is not recommended.