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"Fertility Doctor Will Let Parents Build Their Own Baby"

Health Fertility Pregnancy 2009

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#1 sierraleone

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:42 AM

Seems deliberately sensationalized to me.

Quote

Imagine if you could choose your baby the same way you pick out a new outfit from a catalogue. Perhaps some blue eyes, a bit of curly hair, and why not make her tall, lean and smart?

Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg has already helped thousands of couples choose their child's gender at his fertility institutes in Manhattan and Los Angeles.

Within six months, he says, the clinic will offer a new service: allowing couples to select the physical traits of their babies. Steinberg says he cannot promise that people will get their selections, but claims he can dramatically increase the probability.

Ok, so sounds as parents are being outright giving those options, as in building the DNA for them. But what they are really doing:

Quote

The procedure is called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. It's been used by fertility doctors for years to screen embryos in the lab -- mostly for parents who want to reduce the chances of carrying a baby with life-threatening diseases.

According to Steinberg, the technology behind genetic screening has progressed to the point where parents can almost custom-design their babies.

Is genetic screening screening, same as they did for gender. So they have a batch of fertilized eggs using eggs and sperm the parents requested (most often the parent's themselves), and probably let the eggs divide/cleave/whatever the medical term is, take one of the cells and test it to see what genes it has. Then tell the parents what DNA soup options they have and ask them to pick which one(s) they wanted used. While there are certainly other reasons one can object, I object to the misleading reporting ;) If you have sperm and eggs in a patch both coming from red-haired blue-eyed people, there ain't not choice for hair and eye colour as those people won't have varied genes on those two traits to play with, if I remember my genetics correctly, both being recessive genes. Also IIRC this is already done this with people with genetic diseases. They test the fertilized eggs for having those genetic markers.
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#2 Godeskian

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:46 AM

As an aside as I have no real opinion on this story at the moment, in the UK pre-screening for sex selection is patently illegal.

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#3 sierraleone

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:51 AM

View PostGodeskian, on Mar 4 2009, 09:46 AM, said:

As an aside as I have no real opinion on this story at the moment, in the UK pre-screening for sex selection is patently illegal.

What if one of the parents had a sex-specific genetic disease?
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#4 Balderdash

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:52 AM

I think screening fro disease is brilliant.  I think screening for eye color, gender or any cosmetic thing is evil.  I wouldn't be surprised though that people who have the money aren't doing this routinely.

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#5 sierraleone

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:17 AM

I thought I'd heard about this happening in the UK. And for a disease that is not even 100% sex-specific, boys are 4 times likely to have this. Apparently it doctors were pressuring to do so about 2 years ago, as far as my web-surfing has found out so far. Don't know if they ever got approval.

http://www.timesonli...ticle676000.ece

Quote

A TEAM of doctors at one of Britain’s leading hospitals wants to create the country’s first “designer babies” free from autism.
They are preparing an application to the fertility watchdog that would allow them to screen out male embryos to reduce significantly the chance of a couple having an autistic child.

As boys are four times more likely to be born with autism than girls, couples with a family history of the condition want to ensure they have only girls. Such sex selection is not at present permitted.
...
Joy Delhanty, professor of human genetics at University College London medical school, said couples would undergo the treatment only if autism had inflicted severe suffering on the family.

Couples requesting the procedure would need to go through a gruelling in-vitro fertilisation cycle, even though they had no difficulty conceiving naturally. The technique could be used only to prevent the hereditary form of autism, which affects about 10% of cases. It is not known what causes autism in many children.

Delhanty said: “Normally we would not consider this unless there were at least two boys affected in the immediate family. We would be reducing the risk of autism. Couples are not going to undertake this lightly when we explain what they are going to need to go through.”
...
Delhanty hopes that now that the rules have been relaxed to allow PGD screening for breast cancer the authorities will also consider screening for autism. The team will research the pros and cons of the technique further before submitting an application to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

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Rule#6: Remember the future.
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Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#6 The Tyrant

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 02:45 PM

What was that movie.....GATTACA? It's a 'comin...

EDIT - 'Course, the Nietzschean in me is thrilled...where ya at, Drago Museveni? :lol: :tyr:

Edited by The Tyrant, 04 March 2009 - 02:49 PM.


#7 scherzo

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 04:45 PM

Well a kid is like anything else you bring home...you want it to look nice in your living-room. :)

I guess a person could be forgiven for wanting their child to look more like Tiger Woods than Tony-the-Tiger. The problem arrives when after a century of this, we end up in that Twilight Zone ep where EVERYBODY is hot...so no one is. :(
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#8 SparkyCola

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:22 PM

The problem is that the less genetic variety in the human race, the more vulnerable and weak we are as a race.

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#9 Shalamar

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:30 PM

The thing is Sparky, the spread of racial variety neededn't include genetic defects / diseases - those I would be happy to see eliminated.
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#10 Godeskian

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:32 PM

It's an interesting debate actually. if we're get to the point where we are capable of eliminating genetic diseases entirely then the argument about human racial diversity being a defense against a catastrophic species wide illness begins to lose some of it's potency.

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#11 SparkyCola

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:36 PM

Gode - not all diseases or conditions are genetic.

Shal-  I know it's tempting, and I'm inclined to agree for extremely serious things, but the truth is that some things are not necessarily 100% bad, for example, sickle cell disease protects people against malaria. We don't know enough to start messing about, I don't think. We may think we're being clever, but somewhere down the road there will be some disease that people with asthma say, would have been protected against. So, for very serious things I can agree to it, but for milder things - I can't justify it. And, it is likely to be a slippery slope.

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Edited by SparkyCola, 04 March 2009 - 05:37 PM.

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#12 Themis

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:55 PM

Very slippery slope.

I think we're a long way off from being able to use something like this with any certainty that it won't do more harm than good.  Aside from the ethical questions of whether it's "right" to pre-select a gender, hair color, eye color, etc. for a child.

Let's cure cancer first.  (very much on my mind as I have two acquaintances who probably won't last the month...)
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#13 SparkyCola

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:57 PM

{{{{{{{{{{{{{Themis}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Yeah, definitely a big priority.

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#14 Pallas

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 07:31 PM

Hmm...I'm not sure if I think it's unethical or evil to design your kid.

First of all--this, like almost everything else, is limited to a selection of people who can afford the procedure so genetic variety in looks will continue. Most people, I assume, would continue to have babies the normal way and many will choose to do so.

Secondly...the way you look is sometimes factor in how successful you are in life. People respond better to good looking people even if it's in terms of how you are dressed, properly groomed, hygiene, etc to say nothing of physical attributes that are generally considered uncheangeable (unless you opt for plastic surgery). Please note that I am not saying the way you look is the SOLE factor in how successful you are in life--that would be misreading me. But presentation counts for a lot if you want to be taken seriously and it helps if you're naturally good-looking to begin with.

Thirdly...it's vanity on the party of the parents but is it really vanity on the part of the kid? It's not like the embryo had a choice and if growing up cute is beneficial in the future, I'm not opposed to it.

Screening for genetic diseases sounds like a good idea to me in theory but I don't know enough about the repercussions to really say. I'll ask my roommate though, who is a geneticist.

Additionally--pre-screening for the sex of the baby is mostly to prevent women of cultures who value boy children more than girl children from aborting the girls, China being one such country. That is a different issue, I think, than what your baby looks like.
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#15 SparkyCola

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 07:59 PM

Quote

Additionally--pre-screening for the sex of the baby is mostly to prevent women of cultures who value boy children more than girl children from aborting the girls, China being one such country. That is a different issue, I think, than what your baby looks like.

Well, rural China. Not so much for most of the population these days.
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#16 Balderdash

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:11 PM

Quote

Hmm...I'm not sure if I think it's unethical or evil to design your kid.

Didn't Hitler experiment genetically to create a super Aryan race.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, strong, no mud people.  To me it's evil, arrogant and wrong to design your kid beyond detecting and eliminating genetic problems that can cause deformities or illness.

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#17 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:34 PM

View Postscherzo, on Mar 4 2009, 04:45 PM, said:

Well a kid is like anything else you bring home...you want it to look nice in your living-room. :)


LMAO! That was just wrong! LMAO
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#18 SparkyCola

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:35 PM

^ :lol:
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#19 Themis

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:36 PM

View PostBalderdash, on Mar 5 2009, 02:11 AM, said:

Quote

Hmm...I'm not sure if I think it's unethical or evil to design your kid.

Didn't Hitler experiment genetically to create a super Aryan race.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, strong, no mud people.  To me it's evil, arrogant and wrong to design your kid beyond detecting and eliminating genetic problems that can cause deformities or illness.

Pretty much agree.  There isn't much about looks ("normal" looks - no genetic mutations. missing limbs, that sort of thing) that can't be overcome by decent grooming, flattering hairstyle and makeup (Streisand, for instance), careful wardrobe selection and not being obscenely fat or thin.  I knew a woman on one job who was best described as "round" but the way she dressed and did her hair and makeup, as well as the way she presented herself, made her a very attractive woman.  A lot of very successful people aren't good looking, from performers to politicians.  It's all in grooming and the way they carry themselves - confidence is beautiful.

Choosing a baby's sex is also repugnant to me.  The ancient Greeks "exposed" girl babies; rural Chinese don't want them... boys were needed to inherit property, etc.  But if females become a real minority in a culture, who's going to fight to change things?  (And where would China get those Olympic gymnasts....)

If genetics advances to the point where disease and deformity can be predicted and eliminated, maybe... but fate will probably throw us something different to take the place of what we eliminate.  

Meanwhile, if your baby's appearance is all that important to you, choose your mate or sperm/egg donor for the right traits  Otherwise, it's the luck of the draw.
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#20 Pallas

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:56 PM

View PostBalderdash, on Mar 4 2009, 07:11 PM, said:

Quote

Hmm...I'm not sure if I think it's unethical or evil to design your kid.

Didn't Hitler experiment genetically to create a super Aryan race.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, strong, no mud people.  To me it's evil, arrogant and wrong to design your kid beyond detecting and eliminating genetic problems that can cause deformities or illness.

Well I'm not saying there aren't pitfalls to it but come on...Hitler? Hitler also tried to murder anyone who didn't fit in the profile of his supreme race. Compare that to parents who are vain enough to want really pretty kids or their kids to look a certain way...not even close.

They appear to be tweaking the genes to make the roll of the genetic dice to make it come out the way they want it to. There are no guarantees as it says in the article so their kid could essentially come out looking as they always would have with blonde instead of brunette hair.

I'm ambivalent about the ethical nature of the ability to do this. I haven't decided if it is indeed unethical or ethical--I personally think it's supremely pointless and a waste of time and money. I don't think it's wrong though.

Edited by Pallas, 04 March 2009 - 10:58 PM.

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