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How Early Can An Ultrasound Determine Baby's Sex? Experts Explain

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding out the sex of your little one, then you might also look forward to discovering whether or not you are growing a girl or boy. According to Parents, most patients undergo an anatomy ultrasound around 18 to 20 weeks, but how early can an ultrasound determine a baby's sex?

"Normally, at this stage of pregnancy we can determine the baby's sex, but not always," Dr. Elizabeth Pryor told Parents of the five-month mark in pregnancy. "The position of the baby during the ultrasound is the most important aspect in our ability to tell the baby's sex, and there's no way to influence that."

But ultrasound isn't the only way to discover the sex of your baby. According to Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California and the author of She-ology, noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which takes maternal blood and determines chromosomal abnormalities and gender, can be done as early as 10 weeks. "The NIPT is cost effective, no risk to the baby, and has a 98 to 99 percent accuracy rate," she tells Romper in an email interview.

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NIPT looks at DNA from your baby's placenta in a sample of your blood to "identify whether you are at increased risk of giving birth to a child with a genetic disorder," according to What To Expect. The test can be performed any time after you hit the nine-week mark. A NIPT does not determine whether or not your child has a chromosomal disorder, like Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome, but it will show doctors the likelihood of your child having that condition, the website noted. This blood work can also determine the sex of your baby.

If parents want an early determination of sex (meaning prior to the 18 to 20 week ultrasound for anatomy), chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can also be done from between 11 to 13 weeks gestation, Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper in an email interview. "Chorionic villus sampling is an invasive test which involves testing placenta and pulling tissue from the placenta." Ruiz says that because the test is invasive, it does carry a risk of causing a miscarriage, therefore chorionic villus sampling is not a test that should be ordered for sex determination because of the risk involved with the procedure.

According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), CVS is a diagnostic test that is used to identify chromosome abnormalities and other inherited disorders. "This test may be recommended by your health care provider, if you or your partner has family medical histories that reveal potential risks," the association noted.

Of course, both of these methods are used for special circumstances that extend beyond whether or not your baby is a boy or girl — the sex of the baby just happens to realized in the process.

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Less scientifically-backed methods include the Ramzi Theory, which asserts that the location of your placenta can determine the sex of your baby (right for boys and left for girls). You can also always try the pendulum test where you dangle a chain with a charm over your belly or palm, Parents noted. If it swings back and forth, then you're having a boy, and a circle means you are carrying a girl. There is, of course, always team green, which simply involves holding out for the duration of your pregnancy and discovering the sex of your baby at birth.

But no matter which way you choose to go, one thing is for certain — healthy baby and mama is the end goal. That's something we can all get behind.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.