|Would you choose the sex of your baby?
"You can't choose your family
as the saying goes, but according to one West Midlands clinic -
for the sum of £4,000 - you can.
Inside Out goes undercover to investigate the
Gender Clinic's claims that they can determine the sex of a baby
with 90% accuracy.
Giving birth to a healthy,
full term baby is what most expectant couples long for.
But for some, desperation for a baby of a particular
sex - either to complete a family or to carry on male lineage - forces
them to turn to medical science for help. But how reliable is it?
In a shopping arcade in Erdington, the Birmingham Gender
Clinic use a technique which they claim can determine the sex of a child
with at least 90% accuracy.
Yet experts in the field of human reproduction insist
that there is no independent data to suggest such accurate sex selection
Inside Out goes undercover to find out more.
A numbers game
sperm determine the sex of the baby?|
Posing as a couple desperate for a baby boy, our Inside
Out undercover team arranges a meeting with Clinic Director, Anna Tranter.
Using a technique developed by American Ronald J Ericsson,
Anna claims they can determine the sex of a child with at least 90% accuracy.
"You would have at least 90% chance of conceiving
with a boy," claims Anna.
"That's the minimum, we have been as high as 96
Ericsson's technique claims to filter male from female
sperm by repeatedly passing them through a jelly-like substance.
The method relies on the notion that male sperm swim
faster than female, so more make it to the bottom of the test tube.
Ericsson claims a 75-80% success rate - a figure that
fails to tally with Anna Tranter's impressive claims.
When asked about the clinic's claims of 90-98% success,
Dr Ericsson told us he would never make such claims and neither should
|"If it can be verified then they
have made a brilliant advance. A sceptic would say they are just
"She says there is a 90% chance of conceiving with
a boy," says Professor Chris Barratt - an expert in the field of
"There is no independent data to support that whatsoever.
The hard sell
For the £4,000 fee, the clinic offers four attempts
and as an incentive, our couple is offered a free scan worth £500
- the catch? Our couple has to sign up that day, paying the fee in full.
Chris Barratt doesn't approve of the sales technique
employed, but he confirms that Anna Tranter has offered reasonable medical
The clinic offers a refund if either partner is infertile,
but not of course if the baby is the wrong sex.
Should a scan reveal that the baby is not of the desired
sex, the couple is required by the Gender Clinic's contract to proceed
with the pregnancy - it is illegal to terminate on the grounds of gender
Anna Tranter takes pains to stress that as a private
clinic, all records are strictly confidential.
"You have to sign to say you'll go full term, but
these papers don't go anywhere," explains Anna.
"You would tell us that you miscarried or whatever's
happened and then you can come back," she continues. "It's normally
three months afterwards, there has to be a bit of a gap."
Trading on desperation
targets desperate women through local newspaper adverts|
There's a market for sex selection in all communities
but there is still particular pressure in some parts of the Asian community
to give birth to a boy.
The Gender Clinic targets its marketing accordingly and
adverts for the clinic's services appear in a Punjabi newspaper.
"It is making money out of innocent people, especially
from the Asian community," says Asian community worker, Sharda Lavignia.
And through local newspapers, the clinic similarly hopes
to target people like Nicola Norris - a mother to three boys.
"I had absolutely convinced myself it was going
to be a girl
when they told me it was another boy, I burst into
But no matter how desperate Nicola may be to balance
her family, she insists that the Gender Clinic is not an option she would
"They are playing on people's vulnerabilities and
desperation. If I paid to have a girl and fell into that very few percent
they say I could fall into, I have absolutely no comeback against them."
Right to reply
Chris Barratt remains sceptical about the clinic's claims|
The service provided by the clinic is perfectly legal
and the method it uses means it doesn't need a licence from anyone except
Inside Out has repeatedly requested an interview with
the Birmingham Gender Clinic in order to supply evidence supporting their
The clinic declined, claiming they had been misrepresented
by the media in the past.
Without any evidence, experts like Chris Barratt can
come to only one conclusion.
"They are asking patients to pay up a large sum
of money for technology that is basically tossing a coin
simple as that."