While countries like China and India have been known to selectively screen for male fetuses, doctors report in the U.S. a different kind of sex selection is taking place.  Mothers are spending thousands of dollars on reproductive procedures to ensure they become pregnant with a girl, Slate.com reported.

Certain reproductive doctors call the practice “family balancing.” Early gender screening, which was originally intended to identify and prevent chromosome-linked genetic diseases, is officially known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).  PGD for prenatal sex selection is still legal in the U.S., but has been outlawed for use for nonmedical reasons in Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

According to Slate, gender selection procedures rake in at least $100 million per year.  The average cost of the procedure is $18,000, and experts estimate approximately 4,000 to 6,000 procedures are performed each year.

There is no official tracking on gender selection procedures, there is anecdotal evidence that Americans choose girls over boys, Slate reported.  Google data shows that “how to have a girl” is searched three times more than “how to have a boy” in the U.S., and many fertility doctors say 80 percent of parents who undergo the procedure desire girls.

A study published in the online journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online in 2009 found Caucasian-Americans preferentially select females 70 percent of the time, while those of Indian or Chinese descent typically chose boys.  Generally, women cite a “yearning for female bonding” as the reason for choosing girls, according to Slate.

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The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has expressed concern that gender selection may lead women to undergo unnecessary procedures, and fertility doctors might lose focus on treating infertility in favor of a more lucrative specialty.

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