A new and simple blood test can predict the gender of a foetus after just seven weeks of pregnancy. It's great for predicting gender-related diseases, but the spectre of sex selection looms large.
The funny thing is that while sex selection in favour of boys has historically been controversial in countries including India and China, American families seem to prefer girls. Of families adopting internationally, 95 per cent (95 per cent!) say they want a girl, according to Families.com. Of those, 80 per cent end up actually adopting girls.
Is it payback time for the fairer gender?
Maybe, unless the desire for baby girls exists only for adoption. One theory states that families want to adopt girls because they don't want an adopted child to carry on the family name. Other ideas are that the husband lets the wife pick the gender, or that people think girls are easier to raise.
In any case, it just got a whole lot easier to plan the colour of your nursery. According to a study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association the test looks to be easier and (if used correctly) more accurate than ultrasound. It also doesn't carry the small risk of miscarriage that comes with amniocentesis, which is done between 15 and 20 weeks into a pregnancy.