Magens Bay --San Thomas

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Designer babies: Creating the perfect child

Imagine ourselves sitting in front of our computers or our iPads and browsing thru a catalog of “features.”  In fact we are embarking on an adventure, adventure that gives us the ability to design something extraordinary. Not just anything. We are designing our next generations. Our babies! --Fascinating!

Now, let's drag and drop and create it away. Hm … We want a ‘girl’ –Click. Next we want the girl to have ‘blond’ hair--Click. We want her to have ‘green eyes.’ Click. Small mouth –Click. Tall Nose, Long legs. –Click. Click.

How about the character. We want calm personality, patient, and cheerful. –Click. Click. Click. Don’t forget intelligent, gifted if possible and oh … of course healthy too.
Now we are almost done! Before clicking the 'submit' button to finalize our designs, click the 'preview' button for one last look  Smiling. Satisfied. And this set the beginning of our journey in designing our babies.—Future generation. How exciting!

Image courtesy of  MATT COLLINS
According to Mike Steere, CNN, “With rapid advances in scientific knowledge of the human genome and our increasing ability to modify and change genes, this scenario of "designing" our baby could well be possible in the near future.” And “William Kearns, a medical geneticist and director of the Shady Grove Center for Preimplantation Genetics in Rockville, Md., says he has made headway in cracking the problem. In a presentation made at a November meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Philadelphia, he described how he had managed to amplify the DNA available from a single embryonic cell to identify complex diseases and also certain physical traits.” –cited

But, not quite! According, ‘Kari Stefansson, chief executive of deCode, points out that such a test will only provide a certain level of probability that a child will have blond hair or green eyes, not an absolute guarantee. He says: "I vehemently oppose the use of these discoveries for tailor-making children." In the long run, he adds, such a practice would "decrease human diversity, and that's dangerous”’

Courtesy of
The whole idea was originated to help eliminating prospective parents from giving birth to any babies that potentially may carry certain disease-bearing genes. And perhaps the luxury of choosing ‘sex’ preference. And according to, “In the future we may also be able to "cure" genetic diseases in embryos by replacing faulty sections of DNA with healthy DNA, in a process called germ line therapy. This has been performed on animal embryos but is currently illegal for humans.”

I for one support the research to cure genetic diseases in embryos to produce healthier babies but as far as altering genes for better looking, taller or smarter babies. I am not sure if I could even entertain the idea. After all, there would not be any more surprises and uniqueness among us. And our future generations may possibly look alike and think alike. Just the thought has sent me the chill feeling.

Lastly, I like to leave you with this very quote from John Fischer, "The essence of our effort to see that every child has a chance must be to assure each an equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become different - to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind and spirit he or she possesses”

I hope you enjoy this journey visiting the possibility of designing our own future generations. Until then, enjoy the uniqueness among us. Like Colin Firth once said, "I absolutely don't care about my looks and I'm so used to them that I wouldn't change a thing. I would end up missing my defects."

If you enjoy my blogs, would you come 'Like' me on my FB fan page: --Thank you!

Until next stop,
Journey of Life


  1. I've heard that some people are already doing this to pick eye color and hair color. I want to say that I've heard the really rich doing it for gender as well, but I'm not sure.

    It is all too much for me. I would like to prevent diseases and mental issues in a baby, but I am sure all the genetic modifications will lead to people manipulating the system and trying to make the "perfect" child.

    1. You could be right and I do share your worry about getting off tangents for the benefit of look instead of medical.

  2. Have you ever seen the movie Gattica? It's a futuristic movie that your post reminded me. My favorite part is the beginning where all this genetic profiling is explained.

    It's amazing what we can do with science and I, too, support the progress that has been made to assist families in identifying genetic disorders. But even this can be an ethical slippery slope that we always need to be aware of. No way would I support designing a child for physical or personality traits.

    1. Hello Elise. What a nice surprise to find you in my blog. I love it.
      Nope. I haven't watched that movie at all. I may have to check it out.

      I hear you ... It is always that case. Someone out there is going to make a case turning this into 'cosmetic' instead of 'medical.' Then the designing babies thing would be a trend before we know it!

  3. I've not seen "Gattica," but I have read the dystopian novel Children of Men and seen the movie of the same name. It's never specifically mentioned in either why, but the premise is that at some point, humanity simply loses the ability to reproduce, and what the consequences of that reality are in the short and longer term.

    Obviously, there are ethical, scientific, and practical issues wrapped up in this. I tend to view scientific research as not immoral, but amoral. It's in and of itself neither "good" nor "bad," though its applications of course can be both.

    One thing I don't get is the argument that using genetic research to "improve" the human race (either selecting for better health, better looks, or better smarts) is somehow to be feared. I can see the ethical conundrum from the point of view of the child being born - I have an absolute right, in my opinion, to be sovereign in my life, and I am get squishy when I think about my parents making such existential choices as what colour my hair will be, whether I am going to be "good" at maths or music, etc. But the idea that it is "unfair" somehow, well. Life itself is unfair. We do not restrict, for example, the ability of Harvard graduates to date *only* other Harvard graduates, which if genetics tell us anything, gives their potential offspring innumerable advantages.

    In point of fact, our highly mobile society has made us *less* diverse, not more. As an exercise from the book The Bell Curve from 20 years ago, think of your closest 50 friends, colleagues, and peers.

    How many graduated from college?
    Took the SAT?
    Scored over 1200 on the SAT. 1300. 1400.
    How many attended a four-year college? Graduated?

    The authors pointed out that, if you bought the book, chances are, virtually everyone in your immediate circle said "YES" to every item. A random sample of 50 Americans would mike that event an unlikely one indeed.

    The big risk I see is the unforeseen consequences. Once we start to make our gene pool less diverse, the chance for some sort of odd mutation coming along and wiping us out grows.

    That alone makes me less than an enthusiastic cheerleader of this sort of work.

    1. Your comment is right on! Especially when we alter the gene and then later those babies with altered mutation got married and I too fear the *odd* mutation may happen.

      The book that you mentioned sounds very interesting. I may read it once I am done with my current reading.