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Can Defective Babies Be Made To Order?

by priya on  December 22, 2006 at 8:21 PM Genetics & Stem Cells News   - G J E 4
Can Defective Babies Be Made To Order?
Genetic Engineering and Eugenics were developed by scientists with a vision to produce perfect individuals and to try and remove all defective genes from the gene pool.
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But now it seems babies with defective genes are being made to order. Though it sounds absurd, 'why should anyone order for a defective baby?'- To some parents with disabilities like deafness and dwarfism, it only means making babies like them.

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A recent survey involving U.S. clinics that offer embryo screening suggests this is already happening. Four clinics surveyed admitted that they had provided the expensive service to create children with a disability.

Embryo screening, earlier called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), is done during In vitro fertilization, when eggs and sperm are mixed in a lab dish and then implanted into the womb. In PGD, before implantation, a cell from one-day-old embryo is removed and examined by doctors for genetic defects. The entire procedure roughly costs $15,000 per try.

PGD is usually done to detect and discard embryos with abnormalities like a missing or extra chromosome, which can result in miscarriage or severe and usually fatal congenital defects.

Dr. Mark Hughes, who runs a Detroit laboratory that does PGD nationwide, said he hadn't heard of the technology being used to select an abnormal embryo until the survey.

"It's total nonsense," Hughes said. "It couldn't possibly be 3% of the clinics" doing PGD for this purpose "because we work with them all."

He said his clinic wouldn't do the procedure if asked.

"To create a child with a disability because a parent wanted such a thing.. where would you draw the line?" Hughes wondered.

"It's just unethical and inappropriate, because the purpose of medicine is to diagnose and treat and hopefully cure disease," he said.

Cara Reynolds of Collingswood, N.J., earlier considered embryo screening but now plans to adopt a dwarf baby, is annoyed by the criticism.

"You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who's going to look like me," Reynolds said. "It's just unbelievably presumptuous and they're playing God."

There has been mixed reactions from public, some say it is quite natural for parents with defects to want babies like them, while others feel it should not be allowed.

Source: Medindia
PRI
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