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Sex Determination at Seven Weeks

In a meta-analysis appearing online this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins University's Stephanie Devaney and her colleagues review the "overall test performance of noninvasive fetal sex determination using cell-free fetal DNA." In analyzing 80 data sets from 57 studies, the team found that, "despite interstudy variability, [test] performance was high using maternal blood." Devaney et al. found that while test performance increased with gestational age — such that "sensitivity and specificity for detection of Y chromosome sequences was greatest using RT-qPCR after 20 weeks' gestation," they write — 94.8 percent sensitivity and 98.9 percent specificity were achievable at just seven to 12 weeks. Brigham and Women's Hospital's Louise Wilkins-Haug, who was not involved in the research, tells The New York Times that this study "has wide-reaching implications." Study co-author Diana Bianchi tells the Times that an "important aspect of the study is how this advances prenatal care." Bianchi adds that she's now studying consumers' motivations to purchase prenatal genetic sex determination services — which can run up to $250 or more, are not currently reimbursed by health insurers — because she says it's "very important to educate health care providers that pregnant women are buying these tests."

The Scan

Boosters Chasing Variants

The New York Times reports that an FDA advisory panel is to weigh updated booster vaccines for COVID-19.

Not Yet

The World Health Organization says monkeypox is not yet a global emergency, the Washington Post reports.

More Proposed for Federal Research

Science reports that US House of Representatives panels are seeking to increase federal research funding.

PLOS Papers on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Left-Sided Cardiac Defects, SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring

In PLOS this week: link between breast cancer metastasis and CLIC4, sequencing analysis of left-sided cardiac defects, and more.