Given a choice, would you rather have been born with different eye color, hair color, or skin tone? Maybe you would have chosen to be taller, thinner, or more muscular. Of course, you didn’t have these options. The physical and personal traits a person winds up with are just one big roll of the dice, with only the biological parents’ genes to draw from. However, within advances in genetics research, people may soon select their children’s physical and personality traits like they pick out options on a new car. This genetic technique is widely known as “Designer Babies.”
If you had the ability to play with the genetics of your baby, would you?
History of Designer Babies
The idea of designer babies was first conceived by Dr. Jeff Steinberg, an IVF pioneer in the 1970s. Long before Watson & Crick famously uncovered the double-helical structure of DNA in 1953, a scientist named Frederick Griffith was working on a project that enabled others to point out that DNA was the molecule of inheritance, in 1928.
Fourteen years later, a scientist named Oswald Avery continued with Griffith’s experiment to see what the inheritance molecule was. In this experiment, he destroyed the lipids, ribonucleic acids, carbohydrates, and proteins of virulent pneumonia. In the mid-1990s, embryologist Jacques Cohen pioneered a promising new technique for helping infertile women have children. His technique, known as cytoplasmic transfer, was intended to “rescue” the eggs of infertile women who had undergone repeated.
Born in October 2000, Adam Nash is the world’s first designer baby born by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). His parents were both unaffected carriers of Fanconi anemia, a genetic disorder they passed on to their daughter. Saving their daughter, Molly, required a bone marrow transplant from a matched donor. The PGD process consists of fertilizing embryos in-vitro and implanting healthy embryos to the womb for the pregnancy to commence. In this case, they chose healthy embryos that could also be Molly’s donor. The process was successful and helped provide Molly a second chance at a healthier life. (Source: Baby Created to Save Older Sister)
Cost of Designer Babies
The treatment cost in U.S. clinics is almost about USD $19,000.When the world is concerned about gender balance, the patients claim that it is to bring the gender balance of their family. Parents from around the world are forking out around $19,000 for a groundbreaking gender selection treatment offered by only a handful of U.S. clinics but banned in most countries.
Different ways designer babies are used
One of the ways is that it is used by a Los Angeles clinic that states that it will soon help couples select both gender and physical traits in a baby when they undergo a form of fertility treatment.
The second way it is used is by the PGD that has been long used for the medical purpose of averting life-threatening diseases in children, the science behind it has quietly progressed to the point that it could potentially be used to create designer babies.
Throughout the past decade, scientists have made large progress in identifying various genetic sequences — increased ability to determine which genes decide which characteristics.
Although there are many grey areas, we feel that if regulated correctly, it is the best solution that can effectively prevent the exploitation of this technology and create a new generation of healthier children.
We have chosen this solution because it is beneficial to more than half of the identified stakeholders, namely the babies, the parents, and the government.
So what does the future hold for designer babies?
In the future, we may be able to “cure” genetic diseases in embryos by replacing faulty sections of DNA with healthy DNA. Advanced reproductive techniques involve using InVitro Fertilisation or IVF to fertilize eggs with sperm in ‘test-tubes’ outside the mother’s body in a laboratory. The third way is that parents will have the chance to customize their unborn baby any way they see fit. Everything from immunity to certain diseases to picking the color of their hair will be offered for the ultimate ‘designer baby’.
Genetic scientists believe, in the next few decades, we might be able to design our future babies—to choose the features we want our children to have even before they are born. In addition, we might be able to have our unborn child’s genes tested to detect any genetic disorders and have doctors modify a defective gene or even replace it to make sure our child is born disease-free.
Also Read – Pros and Cons of Having a Designer Baby