A team at Cheil General Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, found that various ratios of two enzymes, which can be extracted from a pregnant mother's blood, indicate the baby's gender as early as five or six weeks.
Boy or girl?
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Ultrasounds can reveal a baby's sex at around five months. Invasive testing can work at 11 weeks but now scientists say they can halve that time The study authors, hpv virus cause bleeding by Dr Hyun Mee Ryu, said knowing the sex early is important if the mother is a carrier of an X-chromosome gene that can cause a disease like muscular dystrophy or haemophilia.
Female foetuses are either free from the disease or are carriers, but a male has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the hpv virus cause bleeding and parents may choose to abort the pregnancy.
However, the team warned: 'This method might promote the potential for sex selection. Therefore, there should be careful consideration about the use of this analytical tool in clinical situations.
Meanwhile ultrasounds do not reveal a baby's outward genitalia, and therefore the gender, until well into the second trimester, and even then they can often be read incorrectly.