The minute you discover you’re pregnant, it’s understandable you’d be excited to find out the sex. Knowing whether you’re expecting a little boy or girl can really help you to not just get better prepared, but to bond with baby too.

The trouble is, if you attempt to find out baby’s gender too early with a private scan, it could prove impossible to tell. Here, you’ll discover when the best time to find out the sex of your baby is and the things to consider before booking a gender reveal scan.How soon can you accurately discover baby’s sex?

On the NHS, gender reveal scans are typically carried out between 18 and 21 weeks. However, private scans are available a little earlier.
The earliest recommended time to find out the sex of your baby is 16 weeks. Any earlier than this and it would not only be very difficult to detect the sex, but it could also harm your baby if you have too many scans early on in the pregnancy.

Is it a good idea to wait a little longer?

Although you can find out baby’s sex in your 16th week of pregnancy, it is advisable you wait a little longer. This is because babies develop at totally different rates to one another. So, you may attend a 16-week scan only to find the sex cannot yet be determined.

If you can, wait until at least 17 weeks and ideally 20 weeks before undergoing a gender reveal scan. That way, you know there’s an excellent chance of finding out the sex and there will be little risk to your baby.

Understanding the blood test reveal option

It is possible to determine baby’s sex via a blood test, rather than scan. However, these tend to only be given to women who have a high-risk pregnancy.

The blood tests are designed to detect potential genetic disorders. Part of the analysis of the blood tests includes looking into your baby’s chromosomes. This means, if a Y chromosome is present, the baby is most likely a boy. If there is no Y chromosome discovered, the baby is usually a girl.

Now, this is a pretty accurate test, but it’s only recommended for those with a high-risk pregnancy. The tests can be carried out at just 10 weeks of age and avoid the risks of a scan. However, if you do qualify for the blood test option, you won’t actually see the baby. So, a scan is generally preferable as you get to not only discover the gender but also see them too.

So, it is possible to discover baby’s sex at 16 weeks into the pregnancy. However, we do recommend waiting until week 17-20 if you want the best chance of discovering whether you’re having a boy or girl. If you choose to have a private scan, we also encourage avoiding the free NHS scan as too much ultrasound exposure can be harmful to the baby.

Clinic Team
A new study has revealed early pregnancy scans could detect whether a baby is left or right handed.

Up until now, it’s been believed that children only start to show signs of being right or left handed during the toddler stage. However, the new research carried out shows vital signs which determine whether a child is left or right handed, could actually be found in early detection scans.

Dominant hand preference could be determined as early as eight weeks

The new research conducted by the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, claims a child’s preference for being right or left handed can be determined as early as eight weeks into the pregnancy. Results of the study have been published within the eLife Science Journal.
Ultrasounds carried out after 13 weeks can show whether baby prefers to suck their right or left thumb. So, why is this considered an exciting discovery? According to the researchers, it’s entirely changed our understanding of the causes of hemispheric asymmetries.

What else did the study reveal?

Another interesting thing revealed by the new research is that it’s the spinal cord, not the brain, which determines our dominant hand. The motor cortex within the brain determines the hand and arm movements, but it’s the spinal cord which turns this initiation into physical movement.

This means that the side of the body which carries out the movement is determined by the spinal cord. What’s most interesting, however, is that within the womb, the motor cervix isn’t actually connected to the spinal cord. Therefore, the fact it has been proven babies do appear to have a dominant hand preference in the womb suggests the brain really doesn’t have anything to do with it.

It is the first time the fetal spinal cords right and left anterior and cervical thoracal segments, have shown differences between relevant gene expression. The research revealed at eight weeks, the gene expression asymmetries were most pronounced between both halves of the spinal cord. It was recorded that 3.29% of entire transcripts which showed biologically relevant differences within left-right gene expressions.

The results of the study could also help doctors detect signs of autism and schizophrenia. This is because the dominance of the cerebral hemisphere which controls left or right handedness, can also determine speech and language. This means it could prove to be an indicator of autism, schizophrenia and depression.

More studies needed to determine detection success

Although this new research is exciting, the scientists claim more research is required to determine whether or not ultrasound scans can detect left or right-handedness.

So, patients shouldn’t expect to be able to discover whether their baby is right or left handed in current 12-week scans. It will likely take a good few years before early ultrasound scans can successfully reveal your baby’s preference.

Overall, this new discovery is an exciting development. It may take a few years to complete additional studies, but it seems highly likely a baby’s left or right handedness will be detected in early pregnancy scans in the future.