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October 7, 2013

Designer babies: an ethical issue

Should we be able to predict our future child's appearance and personality traits?

By Cbr Rolling Blog

There has been a lot of criticism over a US patent for a database that uses DNA testing to inform prospective parents of their future child’s traits.

23andMe, a genomics and biotechnology company based in California, has created a Family Traits Inheritor Calculator that claims to be able to predict the chances of a child inheriting certain diseases as well as information about their potential height, weight, eye colour and personality. A couple send the company a saliva sample to see what their future children may be like.

There was also suggestions that the database could be used by fertility clinics to find ‘appropriate’ donors. Thankfully this plan has now been abandoned due to criticism.

DNA testing and designer babies have always been controversial, especially when it was suggested that not only can parents check their future child’s physical features, but could possibly one day use this technology to have their own designer baby, selecting the sex, eye colour and hair colour of their future children.

I think it could be helpful and comforting for parents to know the possibilities of their child having specific diseases, as it can be a way for them to prepare for the worst. This is especially true for people who have inherited illnesses from their parents.

However, there is absolutely no need for a parent to find out their future child’s height, weight, eye colour or personality.

Isn’t that part of the joy of parenthood, the surprises and discovery of who your child is? You see their eyes on the day they are born, see their personality flourish from a young age and spend the rest of your life watching them grow.

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