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Baby Boy Is The First To Result From New Embryo Screening Technique

Publication Date: 
August 26, 2013
Source: 
The Washington Post - Health & Science
Author: 
Linda Geddes and New Scientist

Professor Hank Greely spoke with Linda Geddes and New Scientist of The Washington Post about the possibilities presented by embryo genome screening and the ethical issues this technique brings up.

Connor Levy made history when he was born in Philadelphia in May, but not because he was created through in vitro fertilization. Rather, he is the first child to be born after his parents screened the genomes of a batch of their embryos for abnormalities, in an effort to pick the healthiest for implantation.

The technique might increase the number of successful pregnancies from IVF. And although the researchers involved in Connor’s case stopped short of actually sequencing the boy’s genome, his example is proof that this can be done — potentially ushering in an era of designer babies.

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“At some point in the not-too-distant future, prospective parents will have the technical ability to look at the genome of their embryos and select embryos based on the traits they see, whether those are disease traits, cosmetic traits, behavioral traits, or boy or a girl,” said Hank Greely of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

A worldwide ban on such selection might be unworkable. “There are roughly 200 countries in the world,” he said. “If 199 ban it, that’s a great commercial opportunity for the 200th.”