A Brazilian team at the Sabin Laboratory in Brasilia, keen to extend the use of NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) which already covers Down syndrome and two other genetic diseases, has devised a test that can reveal baby's gender simply by taking a blood sample from the mother's finger. In a test involving one hundred pregnant women, the test proved 100% reliable from the eighth week of pregnancy onwards, according to scientists who conducted the study. Some English women are already paying to have this test in early pregnancy.
However, this new test is giving cause for concern on many levels. "It is feared that this new finger-prick blood test will herald the ‘genocide’ of baby girls in India and China as parents will have more time to decide whether or not to have an abortion." In India, there is a shortage of approximately 63 million women, whilst in China, the one-child policy in force from 1970 to 2015 has led to a deficit of 34 million women.
Some critics have also expressed concerns about an increased risk of "gender selection".
Hugh Whittall, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, commented as follows, "given that there is no point for pregnant women to find out the gender of the foetus in the first few weeks of pregnancy, we believe that manufacturers should not be allowed to disclose this information".
For further reading:
Daily Mail, Stephen Matthews et George Martin (24/04/2018)