A Kitchener, Ont., woman is planning to launch a product in Canada later this year that would detect the sex of a fetus through a kit that works like a home pregnancy test.
Remy Warren, founder of Remy-International Consumer Products Inc., said the product will be marketed as GenderSense. It would provide useful information to parents, helping them to plan for the arrival of their baby by telling them in advance whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
The kit has an 80 to 92 per cent accuracy rate, based on three studies.
"It's a urine-based test that can produce results in about five minutes in the comfort of your own home," Warren told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition on Wednesday.
'Closer to the baby'
Warren, a mother of two boys, said knowing the sex of the fetus in advance would help parents to bond with their baby.
"For me, it makes you feel closer to the baby, too," Warren said. "I have always said there are so many surprises on the day that you deliver. I feel like it's a surprise no matter when you find out the gender, really."
Warren said she used a similar product six years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child and visiting Florida. Three years later, she used the same product by ordering it online from the U.S. through Amazon.
"I was immediately passionate about the product, telling all my family and friends. When I was looking at products to develop and bring to the Canadian market, this product seemed to be such a great fit."
Prof says test is speculative, restrictive
Morgan Holmes, a sociology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, said she does not approve of the test because it is speculative, potentially restrictive and gender can be fluid.
Gender identity may not be the same as physical sex indicators at birth, she explained.
"When people become obsessed with what their child is, then it becomes this very deep imposition," she said.
Parents will hypothetically use this test because they want to know the future, she said, but children become their own people over time. If children turn out differently than expected, the information could lead to what she called "abusive interference."
Kit is 'another tool'
Warren acknowledges the product could be used by parents whose cultures prefer male babies, but said she would never "knowingly" sell to individuals that would use the tool for sex selection.
"Ultrasounds are always readily available," she said. "This is just another tool for expectant mothers to be able to use and hopefully not in that way."
Renelle Briand, media relations officer for Health Canada in Ottawa, said GenderSense does not currently fit the federal department's definition as a medical device, based on Health Canada's understanding of the product's intended use.
Therefore, she told CBC in an email, it does not need to regulated as such a device.
"It does not appear to treat, diagnose, mitigate or prevent a medical condition," she said Thursday.
Warren hopes to launch GenderSense in the U.S. in February, likely through sales on Amazon, and in Canada in four to six months. Initially, it will be available in Canada online and later through retails sales. It will likely cost $45 US and about $60 Cdn.