Boy or Girl? New Fertility Technique Is 80% Effective in Selecting a Baby's Gender

Would you want to choose your baby’s gender?

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: Iris Images

Iris Images

While there are plenty of old wives' tales that claim you can choose the gender of your baby — like eating a diet high in magnesium and calcium increases your odds of having a girl or conceiving on the day you ovulate or after gives you the best chance for a boy — science is making plenty of advances that guarantee you’ll actually have the boy or girl of your dreams.

According to a new study, couples undergoing fertility treatments may soon be able to select the sex of their baby with an 80% chance of success. While sperm-sorting techniques have been offered to couples in the past, a new procedure separates sperm cells based on their weight and according to doctors, this technique is safer and more accurate.

Turns out, sperm that contain an X chromosome are slightly heavier than sperm containing a Y chromosome (male), and doctors are able to use this slight weight difference when sorting the sperm.

For the study, more than 1,300 couples underwent the sperm-sorting technique that separated the sperm based on weight.

"We let sperm swim into the dense medium," says Dr. Gianpiero Palermo, lead author of the study. "It's a very simple concept; the lighter sperm rise to the top while the heavier sperm go toward the bottom."

Next, a single sperm is selected and injected into an egg in a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). According to Dr. Palermo, the now embryo undergoes genetic testing and screenings and doctors can tell the sex.

The good news is that the sorting technique did not harm the sperm and researchers monitored the babies born from those embryos. "The health of the children is fine so far, and that is all reassuring. No developmental delays were seen at 3 years of age," says Dr. Palermo.

Before undergoing the procedure, all of the couples were surveyed about gender selection and the findings are very interesting. Turns out most of the couples who participated in the study said that they had no preference if they ended up having a boy or a girl. However, 105 couples said they did have a preference. Of those couples, 59 wanted a girl and 46 wanted a boy. For the couples who wanted a girl, 79% of the tested embryos were female, and for couples that wanted a boy, almost 80% of their embryos were male.

Couples who are undergoing fertility treatments often know the sex of an embryo before it is implanted, but according to this study, this new technique could be used by couples who are not looking for fertility treatments but just want to choose the gender of their baby.

There are plenty of reasons why a hopeful parent would want to choose their baby’s gender, but this topic is highly debated. According to the authors of the study, "The reasons for choosing a child’s sex may be social, such as a desire for family balancing. Couples undergoing IVF, who already have a child or children of one sex, may wish to have the experience of raising children of both sexes."

The study continues, "Some couples, who already have children, could have financial reasons for not attempting a further pregnancy without assurance that the additional child will be of a specific sex. Preference for the sex of a given offspring may also reflect on a couple’s cultural belief that there are differences between the experience of raising male and female children."

So, would you go through this procedure to guarantee that you had either a baby boy or a girl?

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