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Baby Gender Checkup Strictly Controlled

The health authority in Beijing enacted on Wednesday a set of policies aiming to prevent medical institutes from conducting operations to identify baby's gender before their birth for other-than-medical purposes.

All the concerned institutes were not allowed to practice the gender checkup operations without permission and in case such operations were necessary for medical reasons, they must be carried out in officially warranted places, said Deng Xiaohong, deputy director with Beijing Health Bureau.

Deng said on Wednesday that the new policies were issued to rectify the unbalanced current gender proportion among the newly born babies.

The normal sex ratio between male and female infants in Beijing is 104:100 to 106:100, but the figure was 108:100 for residents and 128:100 for immigrants in 2003, which indicated serious man-made controls over the natural birth, Deng said.

Quite a few medical organizations provide gender examination service for economic reason because there are still many parents, the farmer immigrants in particular, prefer a son to a daughter.

Official institutes must stop such service at once and those for medical purpose should also receive supervision from the health authority, said Deng.

Medical expert Ren Zhengmei said that gender check is usually applied to prevent some visible symptoms such as limb abnormality, cleft palate, innate heart trouble and others. Each year, approximately 600 infants in Beijing suffer such diseases.

Experts said that unbalanced gender ratio has turned out to be a nationwide problem now and they feared that gender check service is out of control in the country. The situation may be even worse in some inland villages where the service is provided by unqualified or illegal institutes.

(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2004)

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