Monday, 02 Mar, 2009 Science

Soon Parents Will Be Able to Design their Baby


A clinic in the United States offers would-be parents the ability to choose specific traits of their future baby, including the color of eyes or hair.

Specialists, working at the LA Fertility Institute, which is run by Dr Jeff Steinberg, expect the first trait-selected child to be born in 2010. It is worth mentioning that Dr Jeff Steinberg was one of the first to study IVF back in 1970s. In addition to the traits, parents are also offered to select the sex of their future baby.

A laboratory technique dubbed preimplantation genetic diagnosis, shortly PGD, is the one the science is based on. According to Dr Steinberg, couples can use the services provided by the clinic for both medical and cosmetic purposes. For instance, some parents might want a baby with a darker skin in oder to protected against skin cancer, others may just want a baby with a blonde hair.

"Not all patients will qualify for these tests and we make NO guarantees as to 'perfect prediction' of things such as eye color or hair color," informs the official website of the clinic.

Dr Steinberg mentioned that clinics were able to provide such services earlier, but the medical community ignored them.

However, Dr Gillian Lockwood, a British fertility specialist and member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' ethics committee, considers that using science in such a way is not right from the moral point of view, reports News BBC. She says that such procedure would "turn babies into commodities that you buy off the shelf."

According to Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics using science to help parents choose traits of their future baby represents an "inevitable slippery slope of a fertility process which results in many more embryos being created than can be implanted."

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