Non-invasive foetal sexing : medical test or a new tool for sex selection?
Osipenko, Leeza and Szczepura, Ala. (2011) Non-invasive foetal sexing : medical test or a new tool for sex selection? Diversity in Health and Care, Vol.8 (No.1). pp. 37-44. ISSN 1759-1422
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Recent scientific developments in prenatal testing, based on foetal DNA in maternal blood, now allow non-invasive foetal sexing early in pregnancies at risk of a sex-linked disorder. In such cases, these novel non-invasive tests can improve prenatal care by avoiding invasive procedures like amniocentesis with their associated risk of foetal loss. The tests available for medical use are characterised by high accuracy (>99%) and early foetal sex determination (from week 7 of gestation). Many countries now offer families at risk of a sex-linked disorder this new form of clinical foetal sexing.
At the same time, further developments in foetal DNA technology are making antenatal sex determination possible via a finger-prick sample mailed anonymously to a commercial organisation. Direct marketing to future parents of such non-invasive tests for social sex determination will bypass a woman‟s physician. This could allow termination based on sex selection while women ostensibly present to physicians, who will have no access to the test result, for a termination on social grounds. If test results are available at 7 weeks gestation, online purchase of products for non-surgical abortion at home early in pregnancy could also enable some parents to bypass a health system entirely.
Female foeticide, linked to son preference and widespread ultrasound diffusion, has already led to significant gender imbalances in India and China. Certain ethnic minority communities in the west are also now displaying evidence of foetal sex selection. Currently, mail-order foetal sexing, based on foetal DNA in maternal blood, is still an emerging market. However, before any widespread diffusion, discussion about the implications of this new technology and associated issues is important and timely. This article considers evidence of technology development, existing demographic and social changes, corporate responsibility in product marketing, and the role of community engagement and education.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics|
|Divisions:||Faculty of Medicine > Warwick Medical School|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Prenatal diagnosis, Fetus -- Sexing, Sex preselection -- Moral and ethical aspects, Sex of children, Parental preferences for|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Diversity in Health and Care|
|Publisher:||Radcliffe Publishing Ltd.|
|Official Date:||March 2011|
|Page Range:||pp. 37-44|
|Access rights to Published version:||Restricted or Subscription Access|
|Funder:||Sixth Framework Programme (European Commission) (FP6)|
|Grant number:||LSHB-CT-2004-503243 (FP6)|
Almond D, Edlund D (2008). Son-biased sex ratios in the 2000 United States Census. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(15): 5681-5682. Aravamudan G (2007). Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide. Penguin Books.
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