A baby’s gender is determined at the time of conception, long before most women even know they are pregnant. However, to find out whether you are having a baby boy or a baby girl means a wait of at least 16 weeks.
Most pregnant ladies have to wait until their mid-pregnancy scan to determine the gender of their baby. However, statistics show that ultrasounds can be wrong up to 10% of the time. Mistakes can be made when determining gender because it depends on the clarity of the ultrasound images and the expertise of the technician interpreting them. If the technician can’t get a clear view of the baby’s genitals, it may not be possible to tell for sure. What we need to bear in mind is that ultrasound scans, albeit essential tools for monitoring the progress of a pregnancy, were not designed for gender prediction.
Until the 14th week of pregnancy, baby boys and girls look exactly the same on ultrasound. According to Stephen Carr, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, it is preferable to wait until after 18 weeks of pregnancy to get a more reliable prediction of gender from an ultrasound scan. In addition, he says, the baby would need to be in a good position, and the legs need to be far enough apart to grant good visibility between them.
So, wait until later and hope the baby is in a good position? It’s still not very reassuring? Imagine if you’ve decorated the nursery in the wrong colour, bought trousers rather than dresses, and most importantly for today’s mums: held the wrong colour baby shower!
Thankfully, help is at hand. Baby gender testing (also know as a prenatal gender test) can scientifically determine the gender of your baby at a much earlier stage of your pregnancy (from 8 weeks). This is a non-invasive DNA test, which means that there is no risk to the mother or the unborn child. A blood sample is all that is needed, which is usually taken from the mother’s arm.
This blood sample is processed to determine if a foetal DNA is present within the mother’s bloodstream. A technique known as Next Generation Sequencing is then used to analyse the expectant mother’s blood and look for any Y-chromosomal DNA. As the Y chromosome is male-specific, the detection of a Y chromosome is indicative of a male child. If foetal DNA is detected without a Y chromosome it is indicative of a female child.
You can then find out if you’re having a baby boy or baby girl in 4–7 working days. Non-invasive baby gender testing costs just £199.