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Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Baby myth busters

07 MARCH 2013

The royal baby has been the subject on everyone's lips this week. Following Kate Middleton's apparent slip-up on Monday when she reportedly 'revealed' the sex of her unborn child there has been a huge amount of speculation as to what gender Prince William and Kate's firstborn might be.

There are plenty of old wives tales about – but is there really any way to tell? HELLO! Online speaks to Mohamed Abdel-Aal, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, to find out the truth behind the myths...

 

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Morning Sickness
Myth: If a woman experiences severe morning headaches there is a good chance that she may have a baby girl.

Reality: This myth has provided fodder for a heated discussion among the obstetricians in the UK but to no conclusion due to lack of scientific evidence. If a woman is experiencing severe headaches in the morning, it is more likely that she is experiencing high blood pressure.


Heartbeat
Myth: It is believed that if the heartbeat of the baby is less than 140 then it will be a baby boy and if the heartbeat exceeds 140, it will be a baby girl.

Reality: Although this myth is a popular one there is only one particular study that favours it. The study was conducted at the University of Kentucky in 1993 which concluded that this sex prediction method was true for 91 per cent of baby boys and 74 per cent of baby girls.


Placement of Foetus
Myth: If you are carrying a girl it will be high up in the belly and if you are carrying a boy the foetus will be held low and down. This myth is based on the English folk wisdom that boys need greater independence and are carried down below while the girls need more protection therefore they are carried high up in the womb.

Reality: There are no scientific studies or experiments to support this myth.

 

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Food favorites
Myth: If the pregnant woman has a high tendency of likeliness towards sweets like chocolate, she will give birth to a baby girl while a tendency towards salty foods can depict the presence of a baby boy.

Reality: This myth is particularly untrue because some people like sweets more than others. According to this myth, they may never be able to have a baby boy but this is not true and scientifically every couple has equal chances having either a baby girl or a baby boy.


Foetus Activity
Myth: Boys are more active inside the uterus while the girls are more placid. If the baby inside the belly shows more movements then it will be a boy and if it stays calm mostly, it will be a girl.

Reality: The activity of a foetus inside the uterus always ignites discussions amongst obstetricians and doctors. This particular myth is untrue because the movements of the baby inside the uterus depend on many other factors.

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Determining the sex of a baby will always be a point of curiosity for parents-to-be and many still like to predict the gender ahead of the birth. Although the above myths in medical terms are not true, they still prove popular amongst many expectant mums!

So scientifically how can expecting mothers determine the sex of their baby?

There are two methods to determine the sex of the baby. The first one is a part of invasive testing i.e. CVS or amniocentesis (the needle test). If one of these tests is carried out to find out about chromosomal abnormalities then the sex chromosomes can also be checked to identify the sex of the baby (XX for girls and XY for boys). This is extremely accurate however this invasive test cannot be performed just to find out the sex of the baby.

The other most common scientific method is ultrasound scan usually from 16-17 weeks onwards. It is over 95 per cent accurate depending on the experience of the operator. Usually 2D scans are used to find out the sex but sometimes 3D, 4D scan can be useful and fun to watch for parents-to-be!

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