What is a Designer Baby?

Works Cited
What is a Designer
The term “designer baby,” refers to the genetic
interventions into pre-implantation embryos in
the attempt to influence the traits that the
resulting offspring will have. Essentially it is a
term used by journalists, not scientists. A more
realistic term would be “Selected Baby”.
It is currently not attainable to insert genes into
embryos in hopes of desired characteristic
traits or physical features, however advanced
technologies can be used to select the sex of
your future offspring as well as the ability to
screen for certain genetic defects (it is only
legal in certain countries).
If Designer Babies were
Some would argue that it would demean the
uniqueness of each individual, therefore
undermining humanity. It would provide those with
an unfair competitive advantage over the unenhanced, and it could widen the existing social gap
between those who can and cannot afford the new
Genetic engineering of babies would enable
parents to avoid the hardships and economic
burdens that accompany the birth of a child with
an incurable disease, new & better genes passed
on to others, ability to enhance muscles, height,
intelligence, to choose the sex, hair colour and
even personality of our children
(2002). In BIONET. Retrieved May 15, 2012,
Brownlee, S. (2002, March). Designer Babies.
Washington Monthly, 34(3).
Retrieved May 5, 2012, from the
EBSCO database
Chan, A. W. S. et al. Transgenic monkeys
produced by retroviral gene
transfer into mature oocytes.
Science 291, 309-312 (January 12,
Genetic Engineering - Designer Babies. (2010).
In Future Human Evolution. Retrieved
May 7, 2012, from
Lemonick, M. D. (1999, January 11). Designer
Babies. Time Magazine. Retrieved
May 15, 2012, from
Ren, Y. (2005). Designer Babies: The Pros
and Cons of Genetic Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Undergraduate
Research Journal, 12, 28-32.
Retrieved May 15, 2012, from
Steinbock, B. (2008, October 11). Designer
babies: choosing our children's
genes. The Lancet, 372(9646), 1294
-1295. doi:10.1016/S0140
By: JV
- In 1985, there were 30 fertility clinics in the U.S.
- Ten years later, there were more than 300
- More than one million couples seek fertility
treatment each year and spend more than 3 bill in
pursuit of babies
- Fees for IVF vary between $5000 - $15000 with
another $2-3 thousand for fertility drugs
- PGD adds several thousand dollars
- Clinic success rates improved from 17% in 1992 for
women under 40 to nearly 30% in 1999
- Success rates vary wildly from 14% to as high as
- Since 1980, according to the National Center for
health statistics the number of twins born per year
has risen 67%
- The rate of triplets and higher-order birth multiples
has soared from 37 per 100 000 live births in 1980 to
184 per 100 000 in 1999
- In 2001, the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine recommended transferring at most 2
embryos to the mother’s womb for younger patients
while older women can recieve as many as 5
- PGD is legal in the U.S. and Australia, but illegal in
the United Kingdom (unless used for genetic
disorders), Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Spain, New
Zealand, and Germany
Pre-Implantation Genetic
Diagnosis (PGD)
PGD is an in vitro fertilization technique in
which embryos (an unborn offspring in the
process of development) are created outside
the womb and can then be tested for genetic
disorders and gender. Unfertilized eggs will be
removed from the patient, fertilized in a petri
dish and then brought to a zygote (eight-cell)
stage at which point cells are removed and then
tested using PGD. It is useful as it can help to
reduce the chances that a child will be born with
a genetic disorder.
Interesting Find
Screening for Genetic
Defects with PGD
Only specific disorders can be tested for, there is
no generic test available as a “catch-all”. It is
necessary for a disorder to be pre-identified i.e., it’s
known that parents are likely to pass on the
disorder or disease to their offspring. Polymerase
chain reaction is used on single cells to identify
disorders such as: B-Thalassaemia Li Fraumeni
syndrome, cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular
dystrophy (X-linked recessive trait that weakens the
muscles), and etc. In brief, a polar body or a
blastomere is placed in a solution that lyses the cell
and releases the DNA. A PCR reaction mix is then
added and PCR begins
Using PGD for Sex Selection
The researchers at the Genetics & IVF Institute in
Fairfax took advantage of a simple rule in biology:
girls have two X chromosomes whereas boys have
one X and one Y chromosome. In order to choose
the sex of the offspring, the power lies within the
father’s sperm. Y chromosomes have less DNA
than X’s. So, by staining the sperm’s DNA with a
nontoxic light-sensitive dye, the Virginia scientists
were able to sort sperm by gender with a high rate
of success
In 2003, Aushalom Caspi and colleagues
reported in Science that a functional
polymorphism in the promoter region of
the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene
may be associated with a predisposition
towards depression. Individuals with 1 or 2
copies of the short allele of the 5-HTT
promoter polymorphism become
depressed more often after stressful
events than individuals homozygous for
the long allele.
Future Outlook
Scientists will need to do a lot more work
on identifying and isolating the specific
genes that control the growth and
development of each individual feature,
trait, characteristic or talent. They will
need to work out how to alter the DNA so
that the child will match with the parent’s
request. The formation of the human is a
highly complex process of interaction &
interweaving. It is possible to imagine a
society where children can be bred for
specific purposes like off planet living
where genetic manipulation is essential for