If you’re not an expecting mother that likes to wait until the end of the exhausting pregnancy journey to find out whether you’ve spawned a boy or a girl, then you’ve likely gone for your second routine ultrasound checkup around 18 to 21 weeks post-conception.
It may soon be time to forget that gooey tummy gel and a blurry image of a baby hiding in the womb, however. A new study, published in the journal Prenatal Diagnosis, describes a quick, finger-prick blood test that can determine the sex of your still-cooking offspring within the first trimester (until the 12th week).
Tests like this already exist, mind you. Such blood-based examinations – currently privately available in the UK – are used to detect Down syndrome, along with several others, including Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes. Termed the non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), it’s meant to make an early diagnosis of such syndromes safer.
Ordinarily, in order to test for these syndromes, amniocentesis is opted for. This involves extracting a sample of cells from the amniotic fluid, which surrounds and protects the developing baby in the womb. This, unfortunately, brings with it a small risk of a miscarriage occurring, something that NIPT avoids.
NIPT, whether it’s looking for evidence of such conditions or is being used to determine the sex of the almost-child, works by taking a blood sample from the expecting mother using a syringe. This is as non-invasive as the test has managed to be at this point.
Now, however, as first spotted by New Scientist, this new study makes everything a little simpler and more streamlined. Instead of any nasty massive needles, all you need is a single drop of blood from your finger to find out what kind of hellraiser you’ll be having.