Babies By Design: More Harm Than Good?

With stories of 3 parent babies recently appearing in media reports, the topic of gene editing is being more widely debated. Currently, most prospective parents seem interested in gene editing to alleviate the dangers of disease. If technological advances with gene editing and 3 parent babies continue, then there may soon be more ways for doctors to design baby DNA. However, this question is controversial.

The Story of DNA and 3 Parent Babies

Gene editing is primarily used to alter the DNA of an embryo to mitigate the dangers of disease. That is the case with the most recent media reports of 3 parent babies. The mother had already had several miscarriages and lost two children to Leigh syndrome. The dangers of the disease made it virtually impossible for her to give birth to a healthy baby that would grow to adulthood. Then, she learned about gene editing.

The Scientific Basics of Gene Editing

Everyone inherits mitochondrial DNA from their mothers, which carries with it the dangers of disease. That’s because this DNA may contain genetic health defects, which increase the odds of developing illnesses. This genetic defect can be multiplied when it is passed to the child. This can make the dangers of disease acute. Gene editing, which can result in so-called “3 parent babies,” replaces some of the mitochondrial DNA with DNA from another female.

Is Altering DNA Ethical?

Experts are at odds when it comes to whether or not gene editing is ethical. Some argue that altering DNA is essential for guarding against the dangers of disease. Others say that 3 parent babies represent tampering with nature. A third camp wants to take the matter farther so that parents can choose characteristics like height and hair color in addition to protecting children from the dangers of disease.

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