One of the most exciting times during pregnancy is that moment when you discover your baby’s gender. Deciding whether to learn this information before birth is highly personal. For some expectant parents, the sooner they learn the gender, the better, so they can plan ahead for the arrival of their newborn. Other parents prefer to wait until their child is born to learn the exciting news. The typical method for determining gender before birth is to examine the fetal anatomy during a routine ultrasound performed around weeks 18 to 20 of pregnancy. This method is generally reliable, although past studies suggest that up to 1% of cases may have gender misidentified. This number is likely to be lower today due to improved resolution of current imaging approaches, and may only involve rare cases where genitalia are malformed, hidden or cannot be visualized properly.
There are many historic, often folkloric approaches to guess a baby’s gender, as we explain here, and you may find that these are fun to try. Recently, some expectant parents may have learned of an approach called the Ramzi theory or Ramzi’s method to predict their baby’s gender as early as 6-8 weeks into their pregnancy. This method is believed to have been proposed by Dr. Saad Ramzi Ismail. The method examines the location of the placenta on ultrasound at week 6 of pregnancy. At this early stage, the placenta appears as hair-like or finger-like projections, which are called chorionic villi. The Ramzi’s method proposes a higher likelihood that a baby is a boy if the developing placenta is on the mother’s right side. Conversely, the method suggests that a placenta on the mother’s left side predicts a baby girl. In a description of the original study, transvaginal ultrasounds performed at 6 weeks were compared with transabdominal scans at 18-20 weeks followed by confirmation of gender at birth. In that study, which included more than 5000 pregnant women, the success of prediction was reported as 98%. The report suggests that the ultimate intention of the study was to help advance management of gender-related genetic diseases, so the intent may not have been as a routine gender prediction method for a healthy fetus. Another group subsequently examined 277 pregnant women during the first trimester using transabdominal ultrasound and reported poor correlation between placenta location and gender, suggesting that the right or left location of the placenta does not correlate with the baby’s gender. A search for additional medical publications examining the ability of early placenta location to predict fetal gender did not identify any recent rigorous clinical studies.
The Ramzi’s method has gained popularity as a fun way for new parents to guess their baby’s gender. However, the scientific premise for the method is unclear, and the method appears to lack the benefit of stringent, reproducible, and peer-reviewed clinical validation by other groups, as is often required for adoption of clinical methods. If you choose to learn the gender of your baby before birth, the routine approach remains a mid-term ultrasound, when fetal anatomy can more reliably be assessed. In special cases, when sex-linked disorders and genetics need to be investigated, chromosomal testing by chorionic villus sampling, non-invasive prenatal testing, or amniocentesis may be indicated, but these are not routine approaches and are only used for special medical indications.
Gender prediction can be fun as you anticipate the arrival of your newborn. Many approaches, such as whether you are carrying high or low, have been handed down for generations. However, if you are using a gender prediction method as the basis for making a decision, such as which color to paint the nursery, you should feel more reassured using a reliable, clinically supported method, such as mid-term ultrasound.