By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated Columnist
First Published in Print: 08/21/2011
You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there. -- Yogi Berra
CONCEIVABLY, baseball legend Yogi Berra might have been referring to modern birthing trends. With new medical technologies constantly altering the conditions for human conception and birth, it's not always clear where we're going -- and if we're going to get there.
Last week, modern science threw another fastball when researchers claimed in the Journal of the American Medical Association that you could determine the sex of a fetus as early as seven weeks in its development in 95 percent of cases.
More remarkably, this determination could be made by sampling the mother's blood -- avoiding the risky and invasive methods we used to employ for fetal-DNA sex detection in the ancient days of ... well, yesterday.
Savvy readers may ask why this study is noteworthy. After all, since 1997 we've known that maternal blood carried free-floating fetal DNA, which could be analyzed for telltale evidence of either male (XY) or female (XX) chromosomes. Moreover, medical clinics in other countries have been offering maternal blood testing for fetal sex determination for years. And, not surprisingly, private companies have been marketing maternal blood and urine tests to consumers over the Internet, promising accuracy rates as great as 99 percent as early as 5-to-7 weeks' of gestation.
But the new study is radical because its researchers dared to test the test itself. Read More