Katie or Bruce? Choosing Your Baby’s Gender

Given an opportunity to decide the gender of their child, women are equal in choosing blue or pink crib dressings, new research shows.

“Choosing a baby’s gender is a subject that’s nearly taboo for doctors to discuss,” said Tarun Jain, a reproductive specialist at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “However, it’s vital in understanding patient curiosity in non-medical gender choice and sufficiently acknowledge the social and ethical ramifications before final results are released. Before this research, there hasn’t been enough information to indicate how much demand there is.”

Of the 561 females who took part in this research, 229 said they’d prefer to decide the gender of their future child. Within these 229, demand for girls was the same as boys.

Yet the data indicated that mothers who already have a child or children of one gender favor having their next baby as one of the opposite gender to create balance among the family.

Choosing a gender

There are currently two techniques for gender selection that are utilized in the United States.

The first is separating sperm. The idea is that sperm containing a Y chromosome (for boys) weigh slightly less than sperm containing a X chromosome (for girls). Due to this slight variation, the sperm is able to be separated and prepared for a routine insemination procedure.

The success rate for this particular method is approximately 70 percent for boys and 90 percent for girls.

The other technique is pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. This is a type of in vitro fertilization. Unlike standard in vitro fertilization, physicians take a handful of cells from the prepared PGD embryo, where its sex is determined, then they only transfer embryos of the wanted gender into the woman’s body.

This technique boasts a success rate of almost 100 percent, yet it’s costly and highly physically invasive in comparison to sperm separation.

Outlawed in the UK

Choosing genders for non-medical purposes is outlawed within the United Kingdom. This decision was accepted by 80 percent of the people. However, there presently aren’t any laws to prohibit Americans from using this science.

The President’s Council on Bioethics maintains records of the ethical facets of gender choice for non-medical reasons, but has yet to issue a judgment. Early worries are that gender balances would be changed and, in the cases of PGD, human embryos will go to waste.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) isn’t concerned that people will generate an unnatural gender imbalance. They endorse sperm separation as a technique for balancing genders within the family unit. Although ASRM has faith that PGD is safe, it has concerns about the elimination of unwanted embryos, and as such, retreated from its prior support of this technique.

Scientists hope this research will bring the issue of choosing genders further into the public’s view. They suggest it’s important to fertility clinics, as well as society, to decide what constitutes appropriate use of non-medical gender selection as the technologies involved become increasingly mainstream.


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Paternity Testing Before Delivery

dna paternity test?

If you find yourself in need of paternity testing for whatever reason, you have a choice to make. Paternity testing after your baby is born is much less invasive, much less expensive, and has less potential for problems such as miscarriage.

It’s important to understand your options for prenatal paternity testing so that you can make an informed decision. There are essentially two types of prenatal paternity testing that can occur. Both gather a sample of your baby’s DNA and are then compared to the DNA of the potential father.

About amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is generally performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, between the 14th and the 20th weeks. During an amniocentesis, your health care provider will utilize an ultrasound machine to help him guide a thin needle into your uterus, by way of your abdomen. This needle will draw out a little bit of amniotic fluid.  This amniotic fluid is then tested for DNA.

There are a few risks that go along with having amniocentesis. These include a chance of harm to the baby as well as a chance of miscarriage. You might also experience leaking of amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, or cramping.

Chorionic Villi Sampling

CVS is a procedure that can be done earlier in pregnancy, usually between week 10 and week 13. With CVS, your health care provider will insert a thin tube or needle into the vagina, through the cervix, to try to obtain little finger-like pieces of tissue attached to the uterine wall, known as chorionic villi. Chorionic villi comes from the same fertilized egg that your fetus comes from, and consequently has the same DNA makeup as your baby.

The risks involved in CVS are fewer, overall, than those involved in amniocentesis.

Know the law

Keep in mind, as well, that paternity tests notwithstanding, many states have laws about determining who is legally a baby’s father. In many states, the husband of a woman who becomes pregnant is legally the father, regardless of what the paternity testing says. In any case, without certain paperwork, a father’s name will not be listed on the baby’s birth certificate if he is not married to the mother.

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photo by: fekaylius

Prenatal Testing for the First, Second and Third Trimesters of Pregnancy

Blood Draw


Prenatal testing is one way for you to check in on the health of your baby during pregnancy. There are a number of different types of tests that you might undergo, each of which is designed for a different purpose. Some prenatal testing is done as part of the normal routine, such as a blood pressure test and a urine test. Other tests are only done during pregnancy if your doctor suspects there might be a problem with your baby.

The tests you might have during pregnancy vary from one trimester to the next. Let’s take a look at the trimesters of pregnancy, as well as what you might expect in terms of prenatal testing:

First Trimester

  • Blood tests. You will probably have a blood test when you first suspect you are pregnant in order to confirm the presence of hCG, the pregnancy hormone. This test may also check for risks for certain birth defects or heart trouble.
  • Urine tests. During pregnancy, your urine will be checked for various elements, including signs that there might be a problem with you or your baby.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). This test gathers tissue from around your baby in order to check for certain genetic conditions like Down syndrome. CVS usually takes place between weeks 10 and 12 of your pregnancy. If you’re older than 35, have a history of family genetic problems or if other tests indicate the possibility of birth defects your doctor may recommend this test.
  • Ultrasound. An early ultrasound may be done to make sure you’re pregnant and determine your baby’s gestational age.

Second Trimester

  • More blood tests. Second trimester blood tests look for other birth defects, and are usually done between week 15 and week 20.
  • Amniocentesis. Also done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy, this test looks for various genetic abnormalities.
  • Ultrasound. During the second trimester, your doctor will do an ultrasound to determine your baby’s gender and make sure she’s growing according to schedule.
  • Glucose screening. Between week 24 and 28 your doctor will check to see if you have symptoms of gestational diabetes.

Third Trimester

The only new test you’re likely to have during the third trimester is a group B strep test, which will check for a certain type of infection that can be passed to your baby during birth.

Second Trimester Tests

Waiting on Doctor


Pregnancy is a time where a woman can feel constantly poked and prodded. The fact of the matter is that the infant mortality rate has indeed declined in the west, thanks in large part to the variety of medical tests and screening procedures that can take place during pregnancy. The second trimester is the time that many of these tests and screening procedures are going to take place. While not every woman will, obviously, undergo every available test and screening that are out there during the second trimester, there are some regular tests and screening that will take place during the second trimester.

You should expect to have several lab tests and screenings take place during the second trimester, for example. It is very likely that your health care provider will want to test your urine for protein and for sugar. Your health care provider may wish to test your blood for low levels of iron, or to screen you for gestational diabetes. The screening for gestational diabetes that takes place during the second trimester is especially important, as recognizing gestational diabetes early is the best way to make sure that the pregnancy progresses in the way that it should.

An ultrasound is a common procedure for you to have during the second trimester. While it isn’t exactly a test, your health care provider will use an ultrasound to verify how your baby is growing, check out where the placenta is, and to look at the baby’s developing anatomy. An ultrasound will probably be performed during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy as well, although at those times your health care provider is looking for different sorts of things than she is looking for in the second trimester.

There are other tests and screening that can take place during the second trimester. You might have a blood test to screen for a variety of disorders in your baby, such as developmental or chromosomal sorts of disorders. If these blood tests indicate a problem, an amniocentesis may be required. Certainly, an amniocentesis is another type of test that takes place during the second trimester that can, with a greater degree of accuracy, screen for developmental or chromosomal disorders.

photo by: Daquella manera

Choosing a Name For Your Baby

Ultrasound Scanning 2006-05-05

Naming your child is the very first gift you’ll give your child. Since you’ll be saying it a lot, you’ll want to be sure it’s a name you won’t get tired of hearing. Oddly enough, many children’s personalities grow to represent their name’s meaning. Choose your baby’s name well with the following suggestions.

Personal history and traditions

Your family may have naming customs you’d like to continue. Many families prefer to name a boy after his father. Other families name all their children using the same first letter. Whatever custom you decide on, be sure each child feels special by giving them their own name. Naming twins Robert and Roberta, for instance, can lead to potential problems.

Make lists of people you love, want to honor and have special meanings

Cross the names off your list that either you or your partner don’t agree on. With the names you both like, be sure to keep them. It’s likely your list will evolve over time.

Note gender affiliations

Names in today’s age aren’t necessarily gender specific.

  • Avoid children’s names that are normally used by the opposite gender. Your son Dana, Ashley or Kelly may not be keen on being mistaken for a girl at school functions.
  • Male names throughout history, like Madison, are fine for girls. The name alone may not be enough to distinguish your child’s gender.
  • Neutral gender names like Pat or Chris sound masculine. However, many have alternative spellings for females; Bobbi and Toni, for example.

Aging and names

One important component with names is graceful aging. Just because a name is appropriate for a baby doesn’t mean it works when they’re older.

Ethnic names

Some names associate individuals with groups. Unfortunately, many of these groups are discriminated against. Having an ethnic name can make it difficult to find a job.

Consider your heroes

Fictional and real heroes are often name sources. For example, with the success of the “Harry Potter” series, “Hermione” and “Ronald” have become quite popular. On the other hand, you may look up to Mother Theresa and might name your baby after her. Be aware, however, that some role models don’t cross over well into other cultures.

Traditional names are fine and good, and may be desirable for many parents. Yet there’s plenty of room for unique and quirky names. Whatever name you choose, remember your child is the one who lives with it. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

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photo by: Morten Liebach

Top Ten Most Common Birth Defects

Birth defects account for approximately 120,000 babies born in the United States alone. Some of these defects are genetic, while others are brought on through environmental factors or a combination of both. In fact, some birth defects are so severe that they result in a baby’s death. No matter how serious any given birth defect is, it will have a major impact on the child’s, and your family’s, life.

Here are the top ten most common birth defects:

  1. Down’s Syndrome. The chance of giving birth to a child with this genetic disorder is increased with the mother’s age. Both men and women can transfer faulty genes to the child.
  2. Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate. Several factors determine the likelihood of bearing children with a cleft lip or palate. Family history, race, sex, parent obesity and smoking while pregnant all increase the risk.
  3. Congenital Heart Defect. The most common causes of congenital heart defects in newborns are family history and drinking while you’re pregnant. However, other factors are also considered such as diabetes and taking certain medications during pregnancy.
  4. Missing or Undeveloped Limbs. There is no known cause for this particular defect. However, during your pregnancy, taking certain medications or contracting various infections or viruses increase the risk.
  5. Stomach/Intestinal Defects. Younger, caucasian women are at a higher risk of having a baby with digestive problems. Smoking and drinking alcohol during your pregnancy also adds to this risk.
  6. Eye Defects. Nearsightedness and blindness are common amongst this group of birth defects. They are largely genetic, but there are some environmental factors involved as well.
  7. Spina Bifida. Having a family history of neural tube defects is largely responsible for Spina Bifida. Other risk factors while you’re pregnant are increased body temperature, pre-pregnancy obesity, vitamin B-9 deficiency, and diabetes.
  8. Sickle Cell Disease. This is another genetic defect that’s primarily found African-Americans. The chance of birthing a child with sickle cell disease is completely dependent on the parents having the trait in their genes.
  9. Autism. Autism affects all races, but boys are most likely to be born with some form. Parents who show minor issues with social or communication skills and who are older tend to have children with autism.

For the most part, watching what you put into your body decreases the odds of having a child with birth defects. Your doctor is able to identify most of these before your baby is born.

What to Do While Waiting for Your Baby Gender Results

Cover of "Waiting for Baby (The New Baby)...

Cover of Waiting for Baby (The New Baby)


That first 20 weeks or so of pregnancy, before you find out whether you’re going to have a boy or a girl, can be a bit stressful. While you’re going to love and care for that child no matter whether it’s a boy or a girl, you want to be able to plan ahead appropriately. It can also help if you start thinking about names, and even talking to your baby and calling him or her by name in the womb.

Here are some things you can do to pass the time while waiting for baby gender prediction results:

  • Talk with your partner about gender roles. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a boy to be involved in sports and hoping a girl will play with dolls. Yet, for many people, stereotypical gender roles can cause concern, as well. Talk with your partner and decide where you stand in the area of encouraging gender-specific behavior from your child.
  • Focus on your relationship. Regardless of whether you have a boy or a girl, you’re going to need to be solid in your relationship in order to be good parents. Spend some time communicating with one another about your thoughts and expectations, as well as your basic ideas about parenting.
  • Talk to your other children, too. You may be a little bit torn about whether you’re hoping for a boy or a girl, but chances are your other children have very strong opinions on the matter. Listen to what they have to say; obviously, there’s not anything you can do about your baby’s gender, but by talking to your children you’ll help to identify potential issues of concern once your baby is born. A toddler who specifically wants a little brother might even be angry at having a sister, if you don’t have these kinds of chats.
  • Check out some gender prediction myths. While gender prediction myths are only accurate 50% of the time (as with any other non-scientific gender-related test) they can be fun, and help encourage your imagination.

It’s no fun waiting for the results, but fortunately you’ll know with plenty of time to spare whether you’re having a boy or a girl.

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Questions to Ask Yourself About Prenatal Testing

Early Pregnancy

Prenatal testing is a relatively common way to check for certain types of abnormalities with your baby. If your healthcare provider is recommending that you have prenatal testing, there’s important questions that you need to think about and ask yourself before you proceed.

While this is true in general, it’s especially important when the tests are designed to screen for conditions that can’t be medically treated.

Here are some of the questions you want to ask:

  • What am I going to do with the results of the test? If the results, normal, it can reduce some of your prenatal anxiety. On the other hand, if the results come back and show that your baby may have some sort of birth defect, it can add significantly to your anxiety. It might even have you questioning whether you want to continue the pregnancy.
  • How will the results change your prenatal practices? In some cases, a prenatal test may be up to detect a problem that can still be treated while you are pregnant. In other situations, the tests might give a sign to your doctor that you or your baby will need specific attention immediately after birth.
  • How reliable will the results be? Some prenatal tests are more accurate than others. Some tests carry a high risk of false negatives or false positives.
  • Are there risks involved in this testing? Some prenatal testing procedures, such as amniocentesis, can create a risk of miscarriage or other problems, including pain and anxiety. You have to weigh the risks against the importance of knowing what the results of the test are going to be.
  • What expense is involved? Insurance will cover certain types of prenatal testing, but not all insurance covers all types of prenatal testing. You’ll want to check in at a time to see whether or not the particular prenatal test is covered by your insurance plan. If it’s not, then you need to know how much the test will cost so that you can prepare for it financially.

It is your decision

Prenatal testing something that you and your partner have to decide about. Your healthcare provider may have recommendations and advice, but ultimately it is your pregnancy it is up to you whether or not you’re going to pursue this testing.

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Is Prenatal Testing Right for You?

Pregnancy can be an especially scary time in a woman’s life. You’re constantly worrying about the health of your baby and whether or not your pregnancy will make it full term. The good news is that the vast majority pregnancies do make it full term, but that doesn’t lessen the amount of anxiety that you face.

It’s easy to become concerned about potential complications during your pregnancy. If you’re worried about the health and well-being of your baby, there are a number of prenatal tests that your physician might recommend. Making the decision about whether or not to have these tests is up to you and your partner.

Here are some of the most common prenatal tests that you might be presented with:

  • Routine tests. There are a number of common tests that you’re going to undergo during your pregnancy. Blood tests and ultrasounds are the most common, and these tests present no danger to you or to your baby. They are an essential part of monitoring and ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

  • Screening tests. Many tests are designed to screen your baby for potential birth defects or other problems. These tests are often performed as blood tests, and they’re designed to look out for chromosomal abnormalities. Most of these tests don’t pose any difficulty to you or your baby either.

  • Diagnostic tests. If one of your routine tests or one of your screening tests suggest that there might be a problem, or if you have other risk factors such as age or family medical history, there are more invasive tests that your doctor might want to perform. Some of these tests, such as chorionic villus sampling, do carry a slight risk to you or to your baby, most often in the form of miscarriage.

Whether or not a specific test is worth having during pregnancy is something that you need to discuss with your partner as well as your doctor. The risks posed by certain types of tests are often outweighed by the potential severity of the defect that they are looking for.


Signs You Might Be Having a Girl

It's a Girl


If you’re like most parents-to-be, you just can’t wait for that 20-week ultrasound that will let you know, with almost certain accuracy, whether you’re having a boy or a girl. And, while Chinese gender prediction calendars and wedding ring tests might be fun to look at, there is, of course, no science behind them.

That doesn’t leave us with much, of course. There are a few factors that seem to be related to whether you’re having a girl that you can consider, however. Let’s take a look at some statistical reasons that suggest you might be more likely to conceive a girl:

  • You’re both 40 years old or over. Older couples are more likely to have a girl than a boy, by about a margin of 52% to 48%. It’s thought that this is because of changing hormones, and of the nature of female sperm and its ability to make the journey to fertilize an egg, which can be more difficult as we age.

  • You have severe morning sickness. This one sounds like an old wives’ tale, and to be sure the theory didn’t start in science. However, a review of several studies on hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) showed that 55% of women who suffered from the condition had girls, while the rest had boys. This may be related to high levels of estrogen, which is thought to influence morning sickness.

  • You’re from a tropical climate and conceive your baby there. One study looked at birth data from around the world and showed that a greater percentage of girls are born in the region around the earth’s equator than anywhere else. Researchers aren’t sure, but this could be related to levels of melatonin or the temperature of the region altering the survival quality of male or female sperm.

  • The male partner’s job includes high stress. Several studies have looked at high stress jobs, including deep sea divers, professional drivers, submarine technicians and pilots and discovered that more girls are born to men who work in these professions.

Of course, the best way to know whether you’re having a girl is that faithful ultrasound. In the meantime, you can use some of these factors to try to make an educated baby gender prediction.