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 acknowledges 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 for boys.

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

Choosing a gender

There are currently two techniques for gender selection used 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 an X chromosome (for girls). Due to this slight variation, the sperm can 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 the 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. 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 compared 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 prohibiting 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 to balance genders within the family unit. Although ASRM has faith that PGD is safe, it has concerns about eliminating 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 crucial to fertility clinics and society to decide what constitutes appropriate use of non-medical gender selection as the technologies involved become increasingly mainstream.