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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

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

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?

  • 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 criteria?

  • 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 criteria?

  • 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)

Pros criteria?


  • 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

Resources criteria?

  • 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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