Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image on a screen of the baby in the mother's uterus. Whether a baby will be a boy or a girl is determined at the time of conception, long before most women even realize they are pregnant. Lately, as more couples turn to in-vitro fertilization procedures to conceive a child, the issue of selecting the sex of a baby for purposes of "family balancing" rather than for medical reasons is controversial and raises ethical concerns. Women may be asked to drink several glasses of water before an ultrasound because a filled bladder helps give clearer images. However, "more and more people are telling us they want to wait until the baby arrives to find out the sex," Carr said. Early in pregnancy, there is no difference in heart rate between the sexes, Carr said. If the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome, the baby will be a boy. These scans are done to produce keepsake pictures or videos, and not for medical reasons. Gender determination is usually highly accurate Gender predictions made by ultrasound have an accuracy rate "north of 90 percent," Carr said.
But he warned there's not a hard and fast relationship between morning sickness and fetal sex. Still, Carr cautioned that although researchers may find this association holds true over an average of 1, babies studied, an individual baby boy could still have a faster heartbeat, and an individual baby girl could have a slower one. Both the egg from the mother and the sperm from the father carry sex chromosomes. A blood test for pregnant women that's been around for about three years can also determine the sex of the fetus with 98 to 99 percent accuracy, Carr said. But mistakes can be made when determining gender because it depends on the clarity of the images and the skills of the person interpreting them. He said about 85 percent of couples want to find out the baby's gender before delivery. This is because some parents-to-be want to host a gender-reveal party for family and friends to share the news. And the technicians may have limited medical training to interpret the scans, he noted. See a slide show explaining fetal ultrasound at the Mayo Clinic. If it swings in a circle, the child is thought to be a girl. A baby's gender is determined when the egg is fertilized. But by the third trimester, a girl's heartbeat tends to be a little faster and a boy's a little slower, he said. They do so for several reasons: A second ultrasound is usually done between the 18th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy to make sure that the baby is growing and developing properly. That's generally not the case for commercial places doing keepsake images: If the color turns green, the baby is said to be a girl; if it's blue, a boy may be on the way. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image on a screen of the baby in the mother's uterus. Women may be asked to drink several glasses of water before an ultrasound because a filled bladder helps give clearer images. And the only risks to the mother may come from lying flat on her back, which might make her feel dizzy, along with the discomfort of having a full bladder, he said. This early ultrasound is often done to confirm a pregnancy, detect the fetal heartbeat and determine the due date, according to the March of Dimes. Ultrasounds should be used as a diagnostic tool when there's a medical reason to do one, Carr said. These scans are done to produce keepsake pictures or videos, and not for medical reasons. Until the 14th week of pregnancy, baby boys and girls look exactly the same on ultrasound, Carr said. It uses sound energy and not radiation, such as X-rays, to generate images of the fetus. Ultrasounds were not designed for sex prediction. To fill the void, people may turn to some of the following six old wives' tales to predict whether the fetus is a boy or girl.
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