Melissa Russell and baby Violet Faith
"As featured on ABC's World News Tonight" are the first words on PregnancyStore.com, referring to last summer's story
about a revolutionary new test called Baby Gender Mentor that promised
to reveal your unborn baby's gender at just 5 weeks after conception.
baby gender test appears again on ABC World News Tonight, but this time
the story is different. Instead of an amazing medical
breakthrough, tonight's story is about a lawsuit filed by angry mothers
against the test's maker, Acu-Gen BioLabs.
Melissa Russell, of Texas, isn't just upset that Acu-Gen got her
baby's gender wrong. When her Baby Gender Mentor result was a boy, but
ultrasound revealed she was carrying a girl, Acu-Gen insisted the test
was correct, and warned Melissa to expect a baby boy with "ambiguous
I was crying, and I called my family, and I called my pastor, and I asked for prayer.
Melissa Russell, Baby Gender Mentor customer
Melissa's baby girl, Violet Faith, was born in December with
completely normal female genitals. Melissa paid out of pocket for
genetic testing to confirm that her daughter's chromosomes are normal
Other women have shared their Acu-Gen woes with the press as well; links below.
These women feel that they've been taken for a ride, at a very emotional and special time in their life.
Nell Boyce, NPR
Tampa's ABC News affiliate reveals that no government agency
regulates sales of gender tests like the Baby Gender Mentor. The FDA
does not require oversight of the test because it's a "home brew" -- a
test sold as a service.
Women are saying, "Wow, that's really neat, I'm
going to get that!" And every time that they sell a test, that woman is
potentially putting herself and her family at risk for heartbreak.
Danielle Hardy, mother whose Baby Gender Mentor test was wrong
Linda Hurtado reports that women are banding together to file
a class action lawsuit, alleging that their Baby Gender Mentor result
was wrong, and that the company won't honor their promise of a refund.
I think some of this has got to be looked into, and
hopefully stopped. You are not supposed to make misrepresentations when
selling a product to the public.
Barry Gainey, Gainey and McKenna Law Firm
Acu-Gen, however, maintains that their baby gender test works as
advertised. Acu-Gen's president, Chang Wang, says, "We have done
thousands of tests. I think if you want to do a fair comparison, do a
fair report, you should check thousands of them before you make any
I have to disagree. The 99.9% accuracy claimed by Acu-Gen (never
mind statements about "never" being wrong) means that only 1 in 1,000
customers should get a wrong result. Yet over 70 women have reported
here on In-Gender.com that their gender test was wrong, according to
ultrasound results, not to mention numerous reports on other pregnancy
forums. For these 70 cases to represent the 0.1% error rate claimed by
Acu-Gen, sales of at least 70,000 kits would be needed. In
November, the kit's retailer, Sherry Bonelli, stated that 4,000 kits
had been sold, with half those being sold in the first few weeks after
the product debuted on NBC's Today Show in late June.
Although Bonelli maintains that ultrasound is unreliable at
determining a baby's gender, so far over 20 women on this site alone
have delivered babies that confirm their ultrasound was right, and Baby
Gender Mentor was wrong.
Erin Rivera bought the Baby Gender Mentor to find out her baby's unborn gender at just 10 weeks of pregnancy. She thought it would be fun to surprise her husband, stationed in Afghanistan, with their baby's sex much earlier than possible by ultrasound. "Congratulations, it's a boy!" was the result from Baby Gender Mentor.
But Erin's "fun" turned into fear when she got a call from Acu-Gen's president, Chang Wang, with a different kind of news. He told her she should have genetic testing because her baby had a chromosomal abnormality.
"He just kept saying, 'Well, most people would like to know so they would have a choice.' And I got very upset and started crying and he laughed at me and hung up on me."
But Erin soon found there was reason to doubt information from Acu-Gen. Here on In-Gender.com, she found reports from dozens of other pregnant women who were confused and upset after purchasing the Baby Gender Mentor. Not only did ultrasound indicate that their baby was not the gender predicted by the gender test, but a few had also received disturbing news about possible fetal abnormalities from Acu-Gen.
One was Danielle from Kentucky. After repeated testing by Acu-Gen insisted her baby was a boy, and suggestions that her baby could have chromosomal abnormalities, she gave birth to a healthy daughter in December. Yet, Wang still contends there has never been an error.
We don't make mistake. Period.
Mr. C N Wang, Acu-Gen President
Yet over 20 women have reported here that after giving birth, their baby is not the gender they were told to expect by Baby Gender Mentor.
Linda Hurtado of ABC Tampa interviewed Erin and Danielle and visited Acu-Gen BioLab in the first part of a two part series. The second part will air tonight.
A New Jersey law firm is investigating claims from customers dissatisfied with Baby Gender Mentor. The investigation is detailed at www.babygenderinvestigation.com
. According to the Web site, allegations being investigated include:
- Baby Gender Mentor's 99.9% accuracy claim is disputed. No data has been provided by the company to support this claim.
- The 200% money-back guarantee is not fulfilled. Women have reported that Acu-Gen changed the terms of the refund after the product was purchased, making it unreasonable or impossible to receive a refund.
- Unwarranted medical advice and diagnoses. Women say they have experienced emotional distress after being contacted by Acu-Gen's Dr. Wang and informed that their baby has a chromosomal abnormality or other defect, and some have undergone unnecessary medical treatment based on this "advice".
Even if choosing your baby's sex were as easy as taking a pink or blue
pill, most Americans would prefer to leave it up to chance, according
to a new study.
One of the main concerns usually mentioned by opponents of
preconception gender selection is the possibility of upsetting the
birth ratio -- usually under the assumption that since boys are
preferred, too few girls would be born. This is the current
situation in China and India, where a cultural bias for sons is so
strong that the birth of a daughter is always considered "bad news".
The study's authors point out that whether widely available gender
selection could cause a sex ratio imbalance in the US "cannot be
answered by intuition, but only by evidence," which is now provided in
a survey of nearly 1,200 Americans. Here are the survey results (paraphrased by me).
If you could choose the gender of your first child, what would you choose?
39% Boy, 19% Girl, 42% Don't Care
This question shows a strong preference for a son as the first born. Because some studies on birth order have shown firstborns are higher-achieving (more likely to go to college than siblings, for example), some opponents of gender selection have argued that this preference could result in a "nation of little sisters".
However, although the survey results show this preference to be widespread, we don't know whether it is a mild or a strong preference. Is the desire for a firstborn son strong enough to result in the use of assisted gender selection, or is it merely strong enough to affect a survey response? Is it a passionate wish or simply a pleasant image of a big brother watching out for little sister?
As we'll see in following questions, even though Americans may express a gender preference, few are willing to take any action to fulfill that preference.
If you would like to have more than one child, what would you like your children's gender to be?
50% Equal boys and girls
5% Boys only
7% More boys than girls
4% Girls only
6% More girls than boys
27% No preference
Half want the same number of girls and boys, while nearly 1/4
preferred one gender over the other. But those with a preference were
almost evenly split in preferring a boy or a girl, with 12% wanting
only boys or more boys, and 10% preferring only girls or more girls.
Overall, 73% did express a preference for their children's gender,
but again, few of them would be willing
to interfere with nature to fulfill that preference.
Would you be willing to use artificial insemination to choose your
baby's sex, if it cost $2,500 per attempt and 3 to 5 attempts would be
8% Yes, 73% No, 18% Unsure
The majority would be unwilling to choose their baby's gender if it
involved going to a fertility center, and undergoing 3 to 5 cycles of
artificial insemination at a cost of $2,500 per attempt.
Only 8% were willing to use gender selection under these conditions.
Although this is an excellent question for survey purposes, it probably
paints a far too optimistic picture of the true state of gender
selection technology, because it implies that you're guaranteed
the gender of your choice if you're willing to spend a maximum $7,500
on 5 attempts. The truth is, it's likely to cost far more and there's
no guarantee you'll get pregnant -- and there's still a chance of
having the opposite gender in the end.
Would you be willing to use artificial insemination to choose your baby's sex, if it required only one procedure in your doctor's office and was covered by your health insurance?
12% Yes, 64% No, 24% Undecided
Even if gender selection involved only one doctor's visit, only 12% would be willing to take advantage of it. This seems to indicate that for most people, the unwillingness to use assisted medical gender selection is not due to its cost or inconvenience.
If you could choose your baby's sex by taking a pink pill or a blue pill, would you?
18% Yes, 59% No, 22% Undecided
And finally, even if gender selection required virtually no effort at all, only 18% would be willing to take any action to interfere with nature to ensure the gender of their choice, with the majority preferring to leave it up to chance.
The conclusion? Even if there were a gender selection clinic on every corner in the US, most Americans prefer to leave their baby's gender up to chance. And of those who would like to choose, about half would choose a boy and half would choose a girl. There seems to be little threat to the US sex ratio as the result of assisted gender selection.