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The rabbit test was an early pregnancy test developed in 1927 by Bernhard Zondek and Selmar Aschheim. The original test actually used mice. The test consisted of injecting the tested woman's urine into a female rabbit, then examining the rabbit's ovaries a few days later, which would change in response to a hormone only secreted by pregnant women. The hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is produced during pregnancy and indicates the presence of a fertilized egg; it can be found in a pregnant woman's urine and blood. The rabbit test became a widely used bioassay (animal-based test) to test for pregnancy. The term "rabbit test" was first recorded in 1949 but became a common phrase in the English language. Xenopus frogs were also used in a similar "frog test".
Additional recommended knowledge
Modern pregnancy tests still operate on the basis of testing for the presence of the hormone hCG. Due to medical advances, use of a live animal is no longer required.
It is a common misconception that the injected rabbit would die only if the woman was pregnant. This led to the phrase "the rabbit died" being used as a euphemism for a positive pregnancy test. In fact, all rabbits used for the test died, because they had to be surgically opened in order to examine the ovaries. While it was possible to do this without killing the rabbit, it was generally deemed not worth the trouble and expense.
In popular culture
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rabbit_test". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|