One of my best friends has three precious boys. Her house is just what you’d expect–covered in matchbox cars and miniature army men and peppered with lots of conversations about burps and gas. She’s the perfect mom for boys, so it always irritates me when I hear people question their family dynamic: “Will you ever have a fourth? You know, to try for a girl?” Does having a child of each gender really equal the perfect family?
I’m as guilty as the next pregnant person of obsessing over the gender of my unborn child. With my first pregnancy, I couldn’t wait until my 20-week ultrasound. How did past generations actually make it 40 weeks before finding out, I wondered. With my two subsequent pregnancies, the need to know wasn’t quite as strong, but I’m still never one who could wait until my delivery day to learn what we’d have. I’m a planner, and I also feel like I get to know my unborn child better when I know whether it’s a boy or girl. That’s just me.
At a recent visit to my ob-gyn, we discussed the latest announcement about a simple blood test that can detect the gender of an unborn child as early as seven weeks into pregnancy. My doctor admitted he’d been questioned about it by lots of patients, but he was concerned with the ramifications of making such a test widely available–especially to cultures where boy babies are more coveted than girls.
The tests aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because they’re not used for medical purposes, but some skeptics are concerned about how women will use the results. The New York Times article quoted a physician who was concerned that women who couldn’t afford prenatal care might still spend the $250-$300 on the at-home test.
Dr. Diana Bianchi, executive director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, is conducting a study to “try to find out why people are buying these things and what are the consequences,” she said. “It’s very important to educate health care providers that pregnant women are buying these tests.”
What do you think? Would you pay top dollar to learn the sex of your unborn child so early on in pregnancy? And do you think such tests should be widely available to the public?