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Sex selection popular among infertile women

A new survey says a significant number of women being treated for infertility would choose the sex of their next child if given the option -- and those as yet childless would choose baby girls and boys in approximately equal numbers.

"We found that 41 percent of patients surveyed would use preimplantation sex selection if it were offered to them at no cost," said Dr. Tarun Jain, assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at UIC and lead author of a study in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Two techniques currently available in the United States, sperm separation and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, make sex selection possible. But the procedures are usually reserved for the prevention of sex-linked genetic disorders in children and are not widely used for nonmedical purposes.

"Sex selection is a topic that's almost taboo for physicians to talk about. Yet it's important to understand patient interest in nonmedical sex selection and adequately address the ethical and social implications before the cat is out of the bag," said Jain. "Prior to this study, there has been no data to indicate what the demand might be."

Researchers conducted a survey of female patients at a hospital-based infertility clinic to determine the demand and preferences for nonmedical sex selection. They also looked at the type of sex selection method patients would choose.

Of the 561 survey respondents, 229 would want to select the sex of their future child. Among the women who would choose, 45 percent did not have any children and 48 percent had children of all the same sex.

Half of the women who wanted sex selection at no cost would still choose to select the sex of their next child if they had to bear the cost.

Sex selection is not without controversy. Some believe it may lead to imbalances in society's sex ratio and contribute to gender stereotyping and discrimination. The practice has been banned in
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzlez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
10-Mar-2005


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