The Process of "Designer" Babies

A Glimpse into the World of Genetically Modified Humans

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What are "Designer" Babies?

A designer baby is one that has been "selected" while it is still an embryo, which is an unborn offspring still in the process of development, in a lab based off of its genetic characteristics and then implanted into a mother's womb to develop and be born. It is an intricate process that involves many steps and very advanced technology (Murray 2014). Designer babies are extremely beneficial in the prevention of genetic disorders and chromosomal abnormalities. These genetic abnormalities include fatal and severe diseases such as Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, and hemophilia. Let's take a look at the steps to allowing embryo selection.

Chromosomal Abnormalities? Genetic Diseases? What?

A chromosomal abnormality is one that occurs when either a piece of a chromosome, which is a structure that holds genes, is missing or part of the chromosome is altered. To clarify a gene determines the trait, which is a characteristic whether it be external such as eye or hair color, or internal such as blood type, that are passed on to you from your parents. Chromosomal abnormalities are usually passed down to the child by one or both parents (National Human Genome Research Institute). These abnormalities can lead to many different diseases (some of which are pictured below) that exhibit mild to severe symptoms.

Step One: In-Vitro Fertilization (Embryo Obtaining, Procedure, and Development)

In-vitro fertilization is a process where a women's eggs are removed from her ovaries and then placed under a microscope to be observed and from there are placed in an incubator to allow the eggs to mature. The male donor is asked to donate a sperm that will fertilize the egg. The sperm and egg are combined and then placed in an incubator, where they are observed for eighteen hours (Elwess 2015).
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Step Two: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

With the process of creating a designer baby, instead of directly implementing the embryo(s) into the mother's womb, they are first tested with a preimplantation genetic diagnosis test. PGD is the testing of early embryos for specific traits (such as chromosomal abnormalities that could be severe or fatal) prior to implementation into the mother (Elwess 2015). There are usually 8 embryos as the result of IVF and each of the twenty five thousand to thirty five thousand genes are screened. Below is a video going into more detail on how PGD works.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

Step Three: Determining the Healthy Embryos and Implementing into the Mother's Womb via IVF

The next step is determining the healthy embryos. The embryo chosen will usually be free of any fatal or severe chromosomal abnormalities based off of the PGD results. Once the healthiest embryo is determined it is implanted into the mother's womb where they will grow to full term (Elwess 2005).
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Step Four: Birth

The final step is for the baby to be born. This baby will live a life free of fatal or severe chromosomal abnormalities to which they were predisposed to by there parents. The process of embryo selection should become an accepted practice throughout the world when it comes to fixing and preventing these severe and even fatal disorders because it has the ability to save thousands of lives and ensure a child who is at high risk can live potentially free of adverse symptoms caused by these diseases, but it should not be used to pick physical characteristics like eye and hair color, for social purposes.
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Start the Discussion!

The discussion of designer babies needs to start at a public level! It should be used to benefit those who's future lives could be at risk and not for social reasons such a sex selection and physical characteristics. So start talking about it and encourage discussion on how beneficial this procedure is to prevent fatal and severe disorders, because in the long run it will save thousands of lives!
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Samantha Gabbard

Samantha is a nursing student at the University of Cincinnati. She is a firm advocate for certain genetic technologies such as the "designer" baby technologies that are used to benefit and save the future lives of many. She encourages all who is reading this flyer to obtain more information on embryonic selection and genetic modification. She also encourages you to email her with any questions you may have regarding this flyer.

Works Cited

Elwess, Nancy L., and Savanna R. Butterfield. "Born for a Noble Cause? -- -A Case Study on Fanconi Anemia." Bioscience: Journal of College Biology Teaching 31.2 (2005): 3-10. Print.

Murray, Thomas H. "Stirring the Simmering "Designer Baby" Pot." Science 343.6176 (2014): 1208-210. Proxy Libraries. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.

"Chromosome Abnormalities Fact Sheet." Chromosome Abnormalities Fact Sheet. National Human Genome Institute, 9 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.