A Baby, Please. Blond, Freckles -- Hold the Colic

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Several years back I taught an undergraduate seminar course on society and genetic technologies. Our liveliest discussion topics were often centered on a technique used by in vitro fertilization docs to screen embryos for genetic errors, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD for short. The technique was created for one primary reason - to allow couples with a family history of life-threatening genetic disease the opportunity to conceive a healthy child. By using in vitro fertilization to create embryos outside of the womb, in a petri dish, scientists can pluck a single cell from each of the developing embryos and test that cell's DNA for errors. Some will carry the error, others not.  Those free of the defect can be implanted back into the mother and allowed to develop, hopefully, into a healthy baby. An article in last week's Wall Street Journal suggests that PGD will increasingly be used by parents who wish to tailor their soon-to-be child's physical traits.  Sex.  Eye color.  Complexion. "Athletic ability." The idea that many of these traits can be "ordered up" is just bunk.  There is no genetic test for athletic ability or intelligence. Even eye and hair color, traits which we know are genetic, are complicated to predict. The high cost of IVF and genetic testing - upwards of $20,000 -  will alone keep the number of "designer babies" low. One has to wonder, though, how many couples would take advantage of a cheap, easy way to choose the cosmetic traits or sex of their kids?  What if the cost were $200? The $20,000 question: where does "reproductive freedom" end and a common moral standard begin?

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Comments

I think that given the option, many people would choose cosmetic traits for their children. Just look at the way sperm clinics operate. Women get to choose samples based on the traits of the donor. It's certainly not a guarantee, but many women pour over this info for great lengths of time before making their decision in an attempt to create the "best" possible offspring.

Great question and needs to be asked. The line can become very grey once you get a taste of the exciting science, but something just doesn't sit right with me. It feels a little too much like playing Creator, and I don't want to be any where near that one. I'll leave the traits to a higher power.

It's true that when given the chance (e.g. sperm donation), people try to choose esoteric traits for their unborn children. I hope PGD never becomes mainstream for that reason.

Reproductive Freedom my a .. :) , to play or not to play with lives. Well we are already playing but to few of us are aware of that. But still the ideea that you can alter the future of your baby's live it minfd blowing. And I think we are really to far from comprehending what is really going on their. Yes maybe they can change things, but what if they mess other things there. What if baby Mozart had look like a misstake under the microscope.

Probably if PGD kick into place will all be the same one day. No fat guys no skiny guys..all the same.

The theory that you can design babies is comical. Genes are only a small part of the equation. Raising the child properly is of much greater importance.

The interesting thing is that according to their background, if indeed given the choice black people would probably choose a black baby and white people to have a white baby. And given the diversity in preference over blond and brunette.. I guess we would still get all the diversity we are used to.

I would hope that this does not become mainstream. The fact that a gene exists does not mean it will become the dominant gene. This amounts to taking money from people who just do not get it.

Khoa học càng phát triển thì càng nhiều thứ được tạo ra. Nhưng chúng ta không thể và không nên "tạo ra" con người bằng cách đó.

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