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Predictor prenatal gender test kit -- genuine or a scam?

Elizabeth Reid Steere elizrs at mediaone.net
Fri Aug 21 01:39:17 EST 1998

Posted to bionet.drosophila, misc.kids.pregnancy, sci.med.laboratory,
sci.med.midwifery, sci.med.obgyn

For those of you not on any pregnancy-related newsgroups or mailing lists,
I'll explain the background to my question -- recently a large number of
advertisements for a prenatal gender testing kit have been posted to said
newsgroups and mailing lists. A simple test to show the gender of a fetus is
of course an attractive product to those of us who are pregnant, and a lot
of people have been saying that they will be buying the kit.

I for one have doubts about the test -- frankly, I think the whole thing is
a scam. However, I'm no expert in these matters and so I'm posting this
question to several newsgroups where experts might be found. I would greatly
appreciate comments from said experts. If it is a scam I'd hate to see a lot
of expectant mothers wasting their money on the product!

The product is advertised at http://www.predictora.com/ The site claims that
the test works as follows:

--end quote from http://www.predictora.com/works.htm --

"The Predictora test, taken like a home pregnancy test, looks for the
difference between the male and female nucleic acids found in the urine of
the mother. Using an enhancer it differentiates the male and female nucleic
acids by separating them into different color bands. The different colors
indicated by the test will tell you if your baby is male or female.... While
at first some may be taken back a little to see a reference to a fruit fly
(Drosophila melangaster) in the description of a product to determine the
gender of a human fetus, it should be noted that in the field of genetics it
is desirable to be able to test theories in a reasonable time period. The
first gene theory postulated was based on the results of experiments
conducted on peas... The Patent Pending chemical formula used in the
Predictora test was found to differentiate the presence of the acids found
in the male versus female chromosomes, and where as the initial work in
genetics was performed using fruit flies, thus the reference to it. The need
to wait 14 weeks to perform this test has nothing to do with the fetuses
development of sexual organs, but more to do with the fetuses urine mixing
with the mother's urine so that this presence of acids can be detected. "

--end quote from http://www.predictora.com/works.htm --

The site claims a 99.5% success rate and says that a two year study of the
product has been done by "The Hands of Charity" and that studies are
currently being done at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The only
reference to any published research is the claim that "the initial work on
the use of chemical detectors for the establishment of gender of the fetus
was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in early 1990's, but due
to the caustic nature of the chemicals involved further research was not
forth coming" (quote from http://www.predictora.com/study.htm )

I tend to think that it's a scam for the following reasons:

1. The person who has been posting information about this product is
actually the owner of the web site, as registered on www.internic.net but
this person does not divulge his association with the product in his posts.

2. I would have thought that a discovery like this would be a major
scientific breakthrough that would have pharmaceutical companies making
amazing offers for production and distribution rights. The discoverer
certainly wouldn't need to market the product through newsgroups!

3. The whole idea of fetal proteins being found in maternal urine sounds
like gobbledygook to me. Can molecules of that size get from the fetus to
the mother? What the heck do drosophila have to do with it anyway? The cited
quote, while having some impressively long words in it, doesn't make a lot
of sense to me, skipping as it does from vague descriptions of the product
to vague references to early genetic research on fruit flies and peas. The
second last sentence seems to imply that this test would work on fruit
flies, which I always thought laid lots of eggs containing baby fruit flies
of all genders -- hard to see how a test of a mother fruit fly's urine could
predict the gender of her larvae!

4. It sounds too good to be true.

Can anyone tell me whether this is based on actual science? Comments would
be greatly appreciated.

                      Elizabeth Reid Steere
                   Email: elizrs at mediaone.net
            Web: http://people.we.mediaone.net/elizrs/

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