Online posts promote bogus 'home pregnancy test using urine and salt'

Social media posts circulating in the Philippines have repeatedly shared the false claim that women can test if they are pregnant by observing how their urine reacts when it is mixed with salt. This claim has no scientific basis, multiple health experts in the archipelago told AFP. They say actual urine test kits can detect the presence of a pregnancy hormone but salt cannot.

The false claim was shared on January 10, 2022 in a public Facebook group about women's health issues with more than 35,000 members.

The lengthy Tagalog-language post translates in part as: "Those who are not ready to take a pregnancy test yet here's what you can do.

"Your first pee in the morning and don't drink milk/water/etc. before doing the urine test. In one plastic cup place half of your first pee in the morning and add 2 spoons of salt before mixing thoroughly careful not to spill.

"The result is positive if *The salt dissolves and the urine colour changes and bubbles foam on top exactly 2 minutes before it dissolves.

"The result is negative if *The salt does not dissolve and the urine colour does not change and there is no bubble foam on top."

Screenshot of the false post taken December 14, 2022

Similar posts were also shared here and here on Facebook, generating a flurry of comments from those who wanted to check their purported "test results".

"Did I do this right? Is it positive?" one asked.

"How about this, what does this mean? My PT result was negative but I noticed my mood changed, and early in the morning, I feel like vomiting but I just stopped myself," another shared.

The posts are false, multiple health experts in the Philippines said.

No scientific basis

Dr Maria Julieta Germar, an obstetrician-gynecologist from the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, told AFP: "Salt pregnancy tests have no scientific basis or clinical use."

Germar explained that actual home pregnancy tests are able to detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine.

High levels of hCG are a sign of pregnancy as it increases quickly weeks after a fertilised egg attaches to the inside wall of the uterus.

"The salt has no effect on the hCG levels. The hCG has no effect on salt as well," Germar said.

"Seeing bubbles when you put salt in the urine does not mean you are pregnant."

Gianina Dacuya-Omac, a medical technologist from the Far Eastern University's Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation in Quezon City, warned against believing the purported urine test touted in the false posts.

"What if someone is actually pregnant but the [purported salt-urine test] indicated 'negative,'" she said.

Dr Marianne Austria, an obstetrician-gynecologist from St. Clare's Medical Center in Metro Manila, recommends sticking with widely available home pregnancy test kits.

She told AFP: "I don't understand why they came up with this because the existing pregnancy tests are sensitive and affordable."

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