Ultrasounds & the Accuracy of a Baby's Gender

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(Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jessica Merz)

Most parents want to know the gender of their child before she is born. The most common way to determine sex is through an ultrasound. Ultrasound is not 100 percent accurate and must be used with caution.

Definition

An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to transmit a picture. A transducer with lubricating jelly is rolled over the abdomen, and the maternal organs along with the fetus can be viewed in great detail.

Indications

An ultrasound is a routine exam in a pregnancy and is important to ensure the health of the mother and baby. This is a diagnostic test, and some imaging centers do not reveal the sex of the baby since it is not important to the exam.

Results

On a sonogram the gender can be determined by visualizing the sex organs. Both sexes are easily identifiable on a sonogram as long as the fetus is in a proper position. Boys can often be wrongly identified as girls if testes are not seen. This can happen if the legs are not completely open or a hand or umbilical cord is obstructing the view.

Accuracy

Ultrasounds are not 100 percent accurate in sex determination because of fetal position. There is up to a 10 percent misinterpretation of gender. Accuracy depends greatly on the ability of the sonographer.

Alternatives

Amniocentesis is the only other option for gender determination; however, this test is highly invasive and is only performed for medical reasons. If a chromosomal abnormality is suspected this test would be performed, and the sex would be identified as part of the exam.

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