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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Choosing sex of the baby via IVF

Question:  I would like to know if I can choose baby’s sex by IUI or IVF. What are the costs and when can I have an appointment. Thanks. Z.A. (UK)


Answer: It is not possible to choose the baby’s sex via IUI. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) does not differ that much from straight forward sexual intercourse. There is therefore a 50-50 chance of having a child of either sex as a result. As for IVF, yes, the technology to select an embryo or embryos of a particular sex does exist and it is technically possible to do so. However, that is not the issue. Assisted conception is strictly regulated in many parts of the world. Seeing as you are in the UK, you should know that in this country, such a practise is strictly prohibited. It is in absolutely exceptional circumstances that selection of embryos with a particular genetic make-up can be selected for implantation. Choosing embryos simply on the basis of gender preference is illegal.



Discoloured amniotic fluid and future child development

Question:  I was told when my son was born that they were very worried about me because my waters were discoloured and it was usually associated with gross abnormalities.He was apparently normal but has always had problems with his behaviour and physical development.Is this anything to do with discoloured waters? What caused them to be discoloured? What ‘complications' can there be in later life? B.W. (UK)


Answer:  You have not said how old your son is and what it is exactly that is wrong with his physical development. I have an uneasy feeling that the information you were given at the birth was inadequate, confusing or even possibly misleading. If your baby was born normal with no immediate issues after delivery and if he went on to attain the milestones at the expected stages, it is exceedingly unlikely the discoloured waters were of any significance. Discoloured ‘waters’ will in most cases refer to meconeum staining, meaning the baby opened his/her bowels either in the womb before labour onset or, more often, during labour itself. This usually indicates some form of distress but it can also simply occur as a result of post-maturity. The little information I have here leads me to suspect that it is unlikely the water discolouration was of any lasting significance. If your son has major health and behavioural problems, in all likelihood the explanation lies elsewhere.



Scan findings don’t match my dates

Question:  i am pregnant 11wks i had an u/s and my doctor told me that my embryo has growth retardation BY 2WKS?  What does it mean? What are possible causes? What should i do? Is obesity a cause? S. (Egypt)


Answer: It is quite possible your anxiety is misplaced and there is no real problem. When there is a discrepancy of this sort at such an early stage of pregnancy, the most likely explanation is that your dates are wrong or there is an error in the scan gestational age calculations. When you are significantly overweight and a scan is performed abdominally, such an error is quite possible. It is exceedingly unusual for growth restriction to manifest so early in pregnancy. I would expect a repeat scan in 2-3 weeks has been arranged to clear things up for you.



Light vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy

Question:  I had a dating scan on Monday, i was told all is ok and normal. The baby looked as though it was bumping up and down like on a trampoline (or hiccups), is this normal? 2 days later, i had very mild vaginal bleed -light at first then dark - hardly noticable and dissapeared after a couple hrs, today nothing. i have not had any pain and feel ok. Is it something to worry about? C. (UK)


Answer:  It is extremely unlikely that this is something to cause concern. If you hadn’t had a scan in the pregnancy, I would have advised you to arrange one to verify viability. With this occurring only a couple of days after a normal scan, and significantly being painless and self-limited, it is quite unlikely to be a symptom of anything significant. And, yes, babies at around the end of the first trimester (I am assuming this is where you are) have got plenty of room and can be quite active on the scan. That is normal.


Safe painkillers to use in pregnancy

Question:  What painkillers are safe to take in pregnancy? C. (Kuwait)


Answer: We have covered this subject in a dedicated section. Please click here to go there.



Medicine for headache in pregnancy

Question: I am 5 months pregnant and i have headache what medicine is best for me? Thanks. H. (Kenya)

Answer: The first thing that you need to ensure is that there isn’t anything significant underlying. If that is cleared then you can use the standard painkillers deemed to be safe in pregnancy, a subject we have covered here:




Facilitating surfactant production

Question:  What type of tocolytic drugs are used to facilitate surfactant growth? Z.D. (Sudan)


Answer: There are two issues you have alluded to here. Tocolytics do not facilitate surfactant production nor are they meant to directly do so. Tocolytics are drugs used for the primary purpose of trying to suppress or stop labour. Their effectiveness is modest at best. Currently the most popular tocolytic drug is the calcium-channel blocker Nifedipine. Other tocolytics commonly used include Ritodrine and Atosiban. Tocolytics are commonly used when there is premature labour. This is where the issue of promoting surfactant production comes in. Surfactant is the chemical that is produced in the lungs and is essential as an agent for reducing surface tension thereby facilitating normal lung function. Premature babies are prone to respiratory distress because of surfactant deficiency. Corticosteroids are used to facilitate surfactant production when there is threatened premature delivery. Betamethasone or Dexamethasone is used for this purpose. The dose for either is 24mg administered intramuscularly in two divided doses at least 12 hours apart.




Haemoglobin AS and general health

Question:  My child was diagnosed with haemoglobin AS. Can the child lead a normal life? M.O. (Kenya)


Answer: Haemoglobin AS is the same as sickle cell trait. Individuals with sickle cell trait tend to lead almost entirely normal healthy lives. In fact, in some aspects they have a slight advantage over those with normal haemoglobin (Haemoglobin AA). Those with sickle cell trait tend to have somewhat more resistance to malaria. It is only in extreme circumstances that people with sickle cell trait will experience a sickling crisis. This is rare. Since the defective S gene has been inherited from one of the parents (you or your partner), it means one of you is also a carrier (Haemoglobin AS). Should you confirm which one it is via a simple blood test, you will have a clearer view of what your child's health will be as it is likely to mirror that parent’s.