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Q: Could hCG levels signify whether you may be having a boy or a girl?

A: According to a recent study, women who carried a female fetus had hCG levels significantly higher than women who carried a male fetus. This finding is consistent with that same conclusion identified by several other researchers.

In a study published by Yaron Y et al in Human Reproduction, the authors studied 1,325 pregnant women with singleton pregnancies at 10-13 weeks and compared different hormone levels including the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) between women carrying a male and a female fetus.

These findings may have implications not only for evaluating risks of Down syndrome (women carrying female fetuses had a higher risk for Down syndrome) but also on the timing of a pregnancy test. If women carrying a male fetus have lower hCG levels then it may be possible that their first positive urine pregnancy test could be delayed.     

hCG is an important hormone to keep an eye on during pregnancy. When it decreases early in pregnancy, it is clear that the pregnancy is not viable. However, after 10-11 weeks a decrease in hCG is not unusual in normal pregnancies. The management of cases with too low or decreasing hCG levels often consists of observation through blood testing and intervention when necessary.

It's worth noting that hCG changes from day to day so the timing of the blood matters. In general, hCG usually doubles every 48-72 hours very early in pregnancy and every 3-4 days later on until about 9-10 weeks of the pregnancy when it levels off. Consequently, there is no single "normal" hCG level during early pregnancy. There are wide ranges of what constitutes normal levels so consulting your doctor on your specific situation is your best bet. 

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