Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Designer Babies . . . The Future Generation

For those who have never heard of this term a “Designer Baby” is defined as "a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected through genetic engineering combined with  InVitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. The way in which this process works is using InVitro fertilisation to fertilise an egg with sperm in test-tubes outside the mother’s body. This allows the parents to choose the sex of the child, its physical appearance, while holding the power to eliminate genetic diseases. This technique has spurred a lot of controversy.


Genetic screening can reduce the baby's chances of being born with several serious diseases like Down
Syndrome, Famial hypercholesterolemia, rare blood disorders such as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, and many more. Adam Nash was the world's first known designer baby born by the revolutionary pre-implantation process in the year 2000. Scientists genetically selected his embryo so that he would possess the right cells to save his dying sister's life. His sister suffered from Fanconi's anaemia which is a blood disorder, and the chances of Adam obtaining the disease were very high . Through  the process an embryo was chosen, which did not have Fanconi's anaemia. Adam became a donor to his sister, which doubled her chances of survival. As you can see through technique a life was saved. Nevertheless In January 2009, a British mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl having used this process to ensure her child did not inherit her breast cancer causing BRCA1 gene. This allowed someone once unable to conceive , have the miraculous ability to give birth to a healthy child.

Cons of Designer Babies:                                                    

This technique is not limited to screening for genetic and hereditary disorders, but is also used for cosmetic reasons. Dr Jeff Steinburg, Director of the Los Angeles Fertility Institute, who played a major role in the world's first test tube baby in 1978, states that by using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, parents can choose the gender, eye, skin and hair color of the baby. Various other traits such as intelligence, beauty, height, stopping a propensity towards obesity, freedom from mental illnesses, athletic ability, and so on.

The adoption of genetic engineering for cosmetic reasons and genetic enhancements has spearheaded a lot of controversies. Critics point out that if this technique became widely used the level of biodiversity in the human race will plummet, which can result in long term disasters.


In today‘s society, people who have genetic defects are already treated differently and cast out from society in several parts across the world. Designer babies, will lead to discrimination on the basis of certain qualities or traits. Whether you see “ Designer babies” as unethical  or a great technological advancement is your opinion. I believe it holds great benefits that can reduce genetic disorder and reduce future suffering if used appropriately.  


"What Is a Designer Baby?" Bionet - New Discoveries in Life Sciences - Explore the Science and Debate the Issues. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. http://www.bionetonline.org/english/content/db_cont1.htm.

Johnson, By Priya. "Pros and Cons of Designer Babies." Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-designer-babies.html.

"Pre-Genetic Implantation Diagnosis Pros and Cons: Designer Babies Debate Caused by Birth of First
BRCA1 Screened Child." Online Magazine and Writers' Network. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. http://www.suite101.com/content/pregenetic-implantation-diagnosis-pros-and-cons-a158761.



By Priya. "Pros and Cons of Designer Babies." Intelligent Life on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-designer-babies.html.

By, Park/New York, and Thompson/Washington. "Designer Babies - TIME." Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,989987,00.html.