Babies Made To Order – Take Your Pick

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Boy or girl? Blue eyes or black? Blonde or brunette? In less than 2 years, would-be parents will be offered the chance  to select traits like the sex, eye and hair colour of their offspring.  A US Clinic, pioneer of IVF (in vitrio fertilisation) in the 70’s, is now offering this service based on a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

PGD is a technique whereby a three-day-old embryo, consisting of about six cells, is tested in a lab to see if it carries a particular genetic disease. Embryos free of that disease are implanted in the mother’s womb. Introduced in the 1990s, it has allowed thousands of parents to avoid passing on deadly disorders to their children. However, this method has now been extended to select those genes which will result in a desired trait, like color of eyes.

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Design your own baby (image courtesy of Getty Images)

Its not all glamour and bells & whistles. Coming soon after the birth of octuplets (eight,yes eight) in a single pregnancy by a Los Angeles mother in January this year after an unrelated fertility treatment (see here), this technology too has attracted its share of critics.  BBC News reports UK fertility experts are angered that the service will distract attention from how the same technology can protect against inherited disease. Moral, ethical and legal issues will arise when babies are turned into commodities that you can buy off the shelf. Also, in the UK, sex selection is banned under present laws.

As a reflection of changing times and rapid medical advances, the UK will soon introduce legislation that will allow IVF mothers to name anyone as “father” on the birth certificate – even another woman. Confusing? Welcome to the world of designer babies..

Also see “No Girls Please, We’re Indian”

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3 responses

  1. Doc,

    I think it is okay if a baby is genetically engineered to remove some potential health complication of his/her parents i.e. only if that particular health implication is life threatening.

    However to produce “designer” babies at our whims and fancies is dangerous as we are messing around with nature. We do not fully understand the reasons behind most things in life and messing with nature via genetic engineering is a dangerous step towards a chaotic world.

    We do not know how genetically engineered designer babies would eventually grow up, the impact on their brains, behavior etc. We are messing with nature that we do not fully understand or comprehend.

    We have to draw a line between medical reasons (life threatening) and trying to be demigod! Otherwise I see this progress towards designer babies as the beginning to an ending of civilization!

    Doctor2008 says: Precisely!

  2. Are we having LV babies ? I hope not.

    Even with Stem cell research, I still hope those playing with it , do it with care, recently some studies found out that certain therapy had the cells turned in tumor like phenomena.

    There is a balance somewhere (equilibrium) on how much we should push the limit. However , without it, we also do not have new breakthrough, keyword is understand the risk and situation. For those with terminal case, any kind of trial with stretched limit are welcome.

    “No one lives forever, just how to live longer” A quote from a doctor friend of mine, “We help to relief aliment and improve quality of life, we do not guarantee immortality ” Same quote from the same doctor.

    Sorry doc, off tracked a bit.

    Have a great day..

    -woody

  3. Hey!!!

    I am very interested to know if it had been done to people, and are thier offsprings fine?

    As me and my husband are thinking its the best way to protect our children from genetic diseases.

    Doctor2008says: The answer to your question is in the first sentence of the blog

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