A sonogram will usually tell you if you have a boy or a girl in the womb, but they typically aren't done until around 18 weeks.
For those who must know now, a home test kit from a company called IntelliGender will do it at about 10 weeks. You just collect some urine, swirl it in the test vessel, and in 10 minutes it'll be yellow or orange if the fetus is a girl and smoky green if it's a boy.
Well, 90 percent of the time it works, anyway, or at least so claims the company.
If it's just a matter of curiosity, few would care what you swirl in that vessel. But in New Zealand, where the product is set to debut, some are worried that the urge to purge might be a motive.
"The concern we would have is that people would then terminate pregnancies on the grounds of sex selection,"said Dr. Ted Weaver of the The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, in an article on the New Zealand Herald's web site.
With the recent killing of George Tiller, long targeted for criticism by anti-abortion activists in the United States, abortion of any kind remains as controversial as ever in the United States, where a recent study found, surprisingly, that unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to obtain abortions than public schools counterparts.
Gender-based abortion (most often to select for sons) is not unusual in some countries, particularly in Asia. Meanwhile, Swedish health authorities ruled last month that gender-based abortion is not illegal and therefore can't be stopped.
The company that makes the test is careful not to suggest you not make any decisions based on the results.
On its web site: "The test is designed as a fun, positive pre-birth experience for the parents-to-be. IntelliGender does not recommend test users to make any financial, emotional or family planning decisions based on the test results."Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he looks at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.