You have a sharp nose, which you would want in your baby, or your partner’s eyes are so beautiful that you wish your daughter had them too. Until recently, these were just wishes. But now, you can make them happen. Yes, dream about something and get them, thanks to advancement in technology.
If you’ve never heard of the term designer baby and are curious to know more, or if you’re already thinking about having a designer baby, read this post to know more about the concept.
What Is A Designer Baby?
A designer baby is a baby that is created through a genetic screening or genetic modification process. Genetic modification is a process, in which a certain technology or a set of technologies help modify the genetic makeup of cells. It also involves transferring the genes to create opportunities for the genetic makeup.
In some cases, the embryo is first screened before it is implanted in the body, or other gene therapy techniques help create the desired type of characteristics in the baby.
Facts About Designer Babies:
Whether you are planning to have a designer baby or you simply want to know more about it, here are a few facts about designer babies that you should know:
- Most parents who want to opt for the option of a designer baby look for various illnesses that could be prevented in the baby. The most common diseases that the parents look for are cancer, blindness, mental illness, and more.
- 1 out of 10 people who opt for having a designer baby feel that they can improve their baby’s overall intelligence and his height.
- 3 out of 10 people who opt for having a designer baby feel that they can make their babies immortal.
- 32 percent people who opt for having a designer baby want to do so in the hope that they can prevent various health issues in their babies.
- Countries such as India, China, and the UK, do not support the process of designer babies and have, in fact, made it an illegal.
- The technology that helps to create designer babies is not one hundred percent safe. At the moment, it is still in its experimental stage and there is much to be developed and tested.
- If the process of creating a designer baby is not done properly, it could result in an accidental termination of the baby.
- In many cases, parents opt for having a designer baby only to create superficial benefits for the baby. Many parents opt for the process only to get a certain type of look, such as having a baby with blonde hair or blue eyes.
- There is a debate that says that creating designer babies can lead to a gap in society, where babies who are born in a regular way will have a marked difference compared to babies who are born as part of the designer baby series. Such babies who are born as designer babies may look better, think better or even have lesser chances of falling sick.
Traits Common To Designer Babies:
Here are some of the most common traits that you could alter if you have a designer baby:
- The gender of the baby
- The outward looks of the baby
- Reduce the baby’s chances of falling sick or getting affected with a particular disease
- Change the baby’s overall personality
- Alter and improve the baby’s overall levels of intelligence
The Pros And Cons Of Having A Designer Baby:
Here are some of the pros and cons of having a designer baby:
Having your very own designer baby does have its own pros, as the list below will tell you:
1. Can Increase Overall Life Expectancy:
If you use genetic alteration to create a designer baby, it could increase your baby’s overall life expectancy by anything up to 30 years.
When you opt for a designer baby, you immediately discard most of your unborn baby’s defective genes and only keep the healthy genes. As a result, your baby will grow up to be a healthier individual than babies who may have a mix of both the defective and healthy genes.
Once most of the medical issues are taken care of, and eliminated from your baby’s genes, it will automatically enhance your baby’s overall health and help to increase the life rate as well.
2. Reduces Chances Of Various Genetic Disorders:
- When you use the genetic modification technique to create a designer baby, it will help to reduce the chances of various genetic disorders in your baby.
Some very prominent genetic disorders that will have a lesser chance of impacting your baby are as follows:
- Alzheimer’s: It is a genetic condition that can affect the memory as well as the thinking pattern of the baby.
- Down Syndrome: It is a type of genetic condition in which the baby is born with certain very marked physical features as well as some amount of cognitive disabilities.
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy: It is a type of genetic condition in which the muscle movements are affected.
- Huntington’s Disease: It is a type of genetic condition in which the muscular movements and coordination are affected. It also causes a decline in the mental capabilities as well as behavioral patterns and more.
- In many instances, these are not only a means to reduce your baby’s chances of getting affected with certain genetic diseases, but are also a way of increasing your baby’s chances of survival.
3. Reduces Chances Of Inherited Diseases:
- With the concept of having a designer baby, you can also reduce your baby’s chances of being affected with various inherited diseases. Some such conditions are obesity, diabetes, anemia, cancer and more.
- In many instances, these are not only a means to reduce your baby’s chances of getting affected with certain health conditions, but are also a way of increasing your baby’s chances of survival.
4. Provides Scope Of Better Understanding For Medical Professionals:
- When you opt to go for the process of having a designer baby, you assist the various medical professionals in having a better understanding in the said field.
- The various biologists and genealogists who will be part of the genetic alteration team to create a designer baby will be able to learn more and do more in the field of genetics.
5. An Overall Positive Influence On The Baby:
- If you have a designer baby, it means that you can help your baby have an overall positive take on various parts of life.
- Some aspects of your baby’s life that you can surely create a positive impact on are your baby’s health, your baby’s intelligence, your baby’s looks and more.
6. You Call The Shots:
- As a parent, you have the say in what all parts of your baby’s life you want to change for the better.
- You will be able to set all the limits and keep a check on what all changes your baby will go through and how much of the same you want to be done.
7. Instead Of Altering Lifestyle Later, Do It Earlier:
- In many instances, you tend to influence your child’s thinking and life by adding various influences to it.
- Some areas of your child’s life where you do create a major influence are areas such as education, religion, lifestyle, moral values, thought the process and more. Instead of influencing your child later in life, going through the process of having a designer baby will mean that you can create some similar types of influences but even before your baby is born.
- For instance, instead of pushing your baby to study hard and do well in the academic field, you can already enhance your baby’s mental capabilities before your baby is even born, and make it easier for your baby to perform well in life.
8. Other Benefits:
- Lesser chances of genetic diseases
- Lesser chances of inherited diseases
- Better understanding of genetics for biologists and medical professionals
- Increases life span
- Eliminate chances of diseases in future generations
Having your very own designer baby does have its cons as well, as the list below will tell you:
1. Ethical And Moral Aspects:
- During the process of genetic modification that is involved in creating a designer baby, you choose only those cells that you know will be the ‘good’ ones and remove those that will be the ‘bad’ ones. Those who do not support the concept feel that it is almost the same as carrying out an abortion.
- In many cases, parents also decide to go for a designer baby so that they can only use the stem cells. Once the designer baby is created, the parents extract the desired cells and give up the baby for adoption.
- In some cases, the parents have also gone ahead and aborted the baby, depending on their reasons for creating the baby in the first place. In some instances, parents do this only for the money they will get as compensation for donating the stem cells, and have no thought whatsoever of the baby who they may abort.
2. Violation Of Your Baby’s Rights:
- When you go ahead with the process of creating a designer baby, you essentially change the life and mind of a living human being without taking the person’s permission or choice in regard. In this case, you will alter your baby’s mental, emotional and physical makeup for life, without your baby having any say in whether or not it is something your baby wanted or not.
- Also, your baby will not have any say in the way you use or throw away your baby’s cells. You may have your baby’s best interests at heart, but even then it means that you end up changing some parts of your baby’s life forever, without giving your baby the chance to say a yes or no.
- For all said purposes, it is a process in which your baby will be used as a tool or a scientific experiment, instead of being treated more like a human being.
3. Not An Error-Free Process:
- The process of genetic modification to create designer babies is still in its nascent stage, which means that it is still in its experimental phase and needs more time to progress. The process is also not a hundred percent safe, and even though many designer babies have been created who are living happy and healthy lives, there is a lot that is still required to be done. In case there is some error while carrying out the process of creating a designer baby, it could also lead to an accidental miscarriage. As the process is still going through a lot of experiments and changes, it is not yet fully understood what type of implications it may have in your baby’s future genetic disposition. Scientists and the medical experts who are involved in such processes are not yet sure how a designer baby will affect the family tree in the future.
- Also, genetics are not always a hundred percent free of error, which means that it is very likely possible that some or the other error may come up at some point in the future in case of designer babies. There is a reason your baby has those genes inside the body, and even though you may feel it is not required, it could still serve a purpose.
- For instance, the same gene that controls your baby’s intelligence level can also control your baby’s anger issues. So, if you choose to keep that particular gene, it will mean that your baby may turn out to be extremely intelligent and have extreme anger too. Scientists also feel that while they will do everything possible to eradicate any illness in the baby while modifying the genes, an accidental error could give rise to some new form of illness, something they may not be aware of how to treat.
4. Can Create A Marked Gap In Society, Leading To Classes:
- It is true that when you create a designer baby, your baby will have marked differences as compared to those babies who are born in an absolute natural disposition. While it is one of the main reasons why most parents want to go for a designer baby, it can create a big divide in society.
- If more and more parents decide to go in for designer babies, the world will soon be divided into a class of babies who are designer babies as compared to non-designer babies. As a result, those babies who are created as part of the designer baby series will feel more superior to those who are born naturally without any form of genetic manipulation.
- Those who follow social norms believe that it could lead to a hostile environment in the future, much the same way as racism and class divide tends to make people hostile towards each other.
5. Other Shortcomings:
- Not completely error-free and could lead to death of the unborn baby
- May accidentally give rise to new forms of illnesses that scientists are not yet aware of
- Is not affordable by all hence will create a class divide where only the rich can afford designer babies
- Takes away from the child’s individual personality
- May remove certain genes that could have been good for the baby’s overall development and growth
Ethical Issues Related To A Designer Baby:
Some scientists and sociologists feel that creating designer babies can be a disaster that is waiting to take on big and terrifying proportions, one that can create a major rift in coming years. In times to come, creating a race of designer or non-designer babies could lead to a dystopian world, in which the designer babies, who are created by modifying the genes, will turn into a superior race and look down upon others who were born without any genetic modification.
Creating such a race of superior and modified human beings will also have a big impact on the entire human gene pool, in which case many of the essential human characteristics could be under threat of being wiped out.
Some futurists are also concerned that if you go on creating designer babies, it could mean that you will deliberately put the human race on the path to participant evolution. It is a process in which the human body and the brain are specifically redesigned by using various technological methods.
Instead of letting the human brain and body develop through various mutation and natural selection processes that happen as a part of natural growth of the unborn baby, science and technology will take over all aspects.
Designer Baby, Customized Baby:
If you would go by the progress that is happening in the field of creating designer babies, you can easily compare it to something which can more aptly be referred to as creating a customized baby. Just the way that you can today create your very own customized pizza or sub by ordering a particular type of base or bread, the toppings, and the sauces, you can also do the same for your baby. For instance, you could choose from a pre-determined list of items that you wish your baby to have or not have. When you opt to go for a designer baby, you would be asking for things such as blue or green eyes (or a shade that you want your baby’s eyes to be), blonde hair (or the shade that you want your baby’s hair to be), no illness, the person’s gene pool to get that lean look or curved figure, lactose intolerance quotient and much more.
According to 23andMe, a personal genetics company, you can also buy a baby genetic predictor tool that the company has created. The company has specific guidelines where it tells you how, as a mother, you can choose from various options of preferences and screen through the sperm that potential donors have, in order that your baby will possess those particular traits that you are looking for. You can opt for a particular shade of eye color and a level to which you want to reduce your baby’s risk to being affected by certain types of diseases.
GenePeeks is another company which is coming out with more advanced options in the field of genetic mutation and design. It has developed a technology known as MatchRight, which is currently available at certain fertility clinics. It will help you to screen the sperm from various possible donors to understand the resultant outcome when that particular sperm is matched with yours. As a result, you will know exactly what type of baby you will have when you choose to match with a donor to create a designer baby. The tool has a search option which will also let you look for any predictable diseases that your baby might be at risk of in the future as well as any specific traits that your baby may pick up or have. Once you finish the designing process, your to-be baby will then go through a series of production steps. Some of these steps may also be carried out in a laboratory, and not inside the womb.
Another thing that may fascinate you is that at the moment, scientists are also trying to create artificial wombs through various laboratory assisted techniques, which will allow you to have a designer baby without even having the baby inside your womb.
Before you think of having a designer baby, make sure you go through the pros and cons and speak to your doctor at length to understand every aspect.
What is you take on this controversial subject?