By Physician’s Weekly Blogger, Skeptical Scalpel
Pop quiz: In the last 5years, how many people have died as a result of mishaps at gender reveal parties?
a. Less than 5
d. More than 15
The answer is less than 5. After a thorough Google search, I found only two deaths directly caused by gender reveal parties and two somewhat related deaths.
The most recent death occurred on February 21 of this year. A 28-year-old father-to-be was making a pyrotechnic device for a gender reveal party later that day. It exploded, killing the expectant father and seriously injuring his 27-year-old brother.
In October 2019, a homemade device meant to release colored powder to indicate the gender of the child exploded. A 56-year-old grandmother standing 45 feet away was killed by a flying piece of metal.
A 39-year-old California firefighter died while battling the 2020 El Dorado wildfire, which started during a gender reveal party when a couple set off a smoke bomb that was supposed to announce the baby’s sex. This was technically not a gender reveal-associated death, but worth mentioning: In Michigan last month, the parents-to-be fired a celebratory cannon as partygoers were standing outside. Instead of the planned loud noise and flash, the cannon exploded and shrapnel struck and killed a 26-year-old guest.
I conducted a Twitter poll last week asking the same question as the one that begins this post, and 55% of 300 respondents voted for more than 15 deaths.
Because of all the media coverage, most people think gender reveal parties are more dangerous than they really are. But a low fatality rate is not a good reason to continue them. Even one death is a tragedy. An even better reason to stop is they are misguided. Gender and sex are often confused. These parties should really be called “sex reveal parties.” We have learned over the last several years that gender may change.
The first gender reveal party occurred in 2008 and was simply a gathering where a couple cut into a cake with pink frosting inside. The mother-to-be, Jenna Myers Karvunidis (@HighGlossSauce), blogged about the event, and the idea went viral. She now wants these parties to stop.
In a Facebook post 2 years ago, she said, “Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now—that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.”
She tweeted this last year: “I’m getting a lot of hateful messages about the gender reveal party that set California on fire yesterday. Could we just stop having these stupid parties and then the problem would solve itself? Thanks.”
Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chair and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last 9 years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 3,700,000 page views, and he has over 21,000 followers on Twitter.