For some families, it's not enough to give birth to a healthy child. They have to give birth to a healthy daughter.
Choosing a child's gender used to be something from sci-fi novels. Today, however, it has become a $100 million dollar industry that performs up to 6,000 procedures a year.
A recent article on Slate told the story of Megan Simpson (not her real name) who spent a lot of time and money, (four years and over $40,000 to be exact) in order to have a daughter. But what exactly does the process, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), require and why are so many people risking debt to partake?
According to the article, PGD requires some science and a whole lot of luck. After lab techs fertilize the egg and let it incubate for three days, an embryologist uses a laser to cut through the embryo's membrane and pick out a cell. With the help of fluorescent dyes, the embryologist is able to see if the cell is carrying larger XX or tinier XY chromosomes. If it looks the be the gender the parents want, they allow the remaining cells to continue to develop.
But even then, there's no guarantee you''ll have a daughter. For Megan, it took two PGD treatments for her to finally give birth to a girl. So why opt for an expensive procedure that may or may not be more effective than having sex during a full moon or eating chocolate?
For the mother daughter connection. In interviewing several women who underwent or considered PGD, Slate writer Jasmeet Sidhu found that many moms-to-be wanted to recreate the relationship they had with their own mothers. Some even said they wouldn't know how to raise a boy.
"I'm not into sports. I'm not into violent games. I'm not into a lot of things boys represent and boys do,” Jennifer Merrill Thompson, author of Chasing the Dream who used gender-selection technology, told Slate.
If you have the means (or the willingness to go into debt) and the desire to have a daughter, then maybe PDG is something to consider. If not, there's always the lemon method (some say if you suck on a lemon before sex, you're more likely to conceive a girl).
What do you think of gender-selection technology? Would you undergo PGD?