Genetic engineering designer babies
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Genetic Engineering Designer Babies. Hailee Schanke, Alison Van Heuklon, Katie Juran. Designing a baby. Most believe a couple sits down with a doctor to decide eye color, sex, nose shape, height, weight, talents, interests, hair color, and personality traits. This is NOT true.

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Genetic Engineering Designer Babies

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Genetic engineering designer babies

Genetic EngineeringDesigner Babies

Hailee Schanke, Alison Van Heuklon, Katie Juran

Designing a baby

Designing a baby

  • Most believe a couple sits down with a doctor to decide eye color, sex, nose shape, height, weight, talents, interests, hair color, and personality traits.

  • This is NOT true.

Selected baby

“Selected Baby”

  • Most think “Selected baby” is a better term than “designer baby”

  • Doctor will select an embryo that:

    • Is for a specific sex

    • Is screened for potential genetic diseases

    • A match for an existing sibling who has a genetic disorder

  • All other traits are pure predictions

What is genetic engineering

What is Genetic Engineering?

  • Organisms are given new combinations of genes (therefore new traits) in order to have a desired state or condition

    • Usually used for genetic disease screening

    • Not as commonly used to decide the sex of the child

Methods used to ensure sex of the baby

Methods used to Ensure Sex of the Baby

Sperm sorting

Sperm Sorting

  • Take the father’s sperm and separate them into male and female chromosome carriers

  • Artificially inseminate the mother with the correct sperm

Prenatal diagnosis

Prenatal Diagnosis

  • Give an ultrasound or an amniocentesis (removal of amnio fluid from around the fetus) to the mother

  • This will determine sex

  • If the sex is undesired, terminate the pregnancy

Traditional methods

Traditional Methods

  • Take a needle and thread and hold it over your wrist

  • If the needle swings back and forth, it’s a girl

  • If the needle swings in a circle, it’s a boy

  • Not a lot of scientific evidence to support traditional methods

Pre implantation diagnosis

Pre-Implantation Diagnosis

  • Remove an unfertilized egg from the women

  • Fertilize in a Petri-dish, and bring to zygote stage

  • Examine for sex and genetic diseases (more commonly used for genetic disease testing)

  • Test is called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or Selection

Strange things done with genetic engineering

Strange Things done with Genetic Engineering

  • Created a chicken with four legs and no wings

  • Made “big-breasted” chickens that couldn’t even walk just for their breast meat

  • Created a goat with spider genes which produced silk in its milk

  • Inserted human genes into a sheep so they produce a substance in their milk which has treated lung cancer in humans

Ethical considerations

Ethical Considerations

  • Which conditions should be tested for?

  • Should gender selection be used for non-medical reasons?

  • Should other “social traits” be selected for or against?

  • Should these procedures be offered to patients who have a serious illness?

  • Should it be offered to women above a certain age?

Genetic engineering designer babies

  • Should these procedures be refused because of psychosocial criteria?

  • How much latitude should patients be allowed?

  • What training does the doctor need before doing these procedures?

  • Do physicians have a duty to inform?

  • Should insurance companies cover this process? If so, how much?

  • What should children resulting from these procedures be told?

Social implications

Social Implications

  • One of the biggest social implications about designing babies is the concern for the societies this might lead to.

  • Will picking the desired traits diminish the variability in the gene pool?

Political issues

Political Issues

  • The U.S. is a 3 billion dollar fertility industry but they don’t have many rules or regulations

  • Of 30 industrialized countries (1/5 of the world’s population), 77% have banned embryo screening for non-medical purposes (2009)

Genetic engineering designer babies



  • Reduce chances of serious diseases

  • Treating family member’s diseases

  • Could potentially decrease abortion rates

  • Enhances positive traits such as longevity

  • Introduce desired traits

  • Eliminates grief and economic struggles

  • Blurs the lines between social/economical classes

  • Only disease-free embryos are implanted

  • Used for cosmetic reasons

  • The price for each baby is $18,000

  • Takes away the link between sex and reproduction

  • Loss of diversity in the human race (ideal human race)

  • Increases abortion rate

  • Traits decided by parents eliminates the child’s choice

  • There are no guarantees regarding how the child comes out

What do you think

What do you think?



  • Klitzman R, Appelbaum P, Chung W, Sauer M. Anticipating issues related to increasing preimplantation genetic diagnosis use: a research agenda. Reproductive Biomedicine Online [serial online]. July 2, 2008;17(1):33-42. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 3, 2011.


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