What do you do when you crave for a pizza? You go to a pizzeria and get a pizza customized just for you. You choose a size, you choose a base, you choose the toppings, you choose the extras and you choose the sides. You get a designer pizza, made exactly to your taste. What if this kind of customization can be extrapolated to babies? What if you can have a baby that is customized to your likes? That is what a designer baby is. Whether you are considering a designer baby, or if you are intrigued by the concept, here is everything you need to know about designer babies.
- What Is Meant By Designer Babies?
- Some Interesting Facts About Designer Babies
- Traits Common To Designer Babies
- Benefits Of Designer Babies
- Problems Associated With Designer Babies
What Is Meant By Designer Babies?
Babies who are “designed” through a genetic modification process are called designer babies. You know that genes make us who we are. If the genes of an embryo are altered using technology, adding in desired characteristics and taking away the undesired ones, then the resulting embryo will have a genetic makeup that has been engineered through gene therapy. This is a fast-changing field with new advancements in genetic mutation happening regularly.
Some Interesting Facts About Designer Babies
- The majority of parents who go for designer babies are not really looking for fancy looking kids of a certain complexion, look or height. They are, in fact, hoping their children will not have different kinds of illnesses that perhaps run in the family like any kind of cancer, mental illness, Down syndrome, blindness and many such diseases
- Some parents, although a minority, hope to impact their children’s looks, heights and intelligence level through genetic modification
- A very small niche group of parents hope that genetic technologies will advance to such an extent that immortal babies can be designed in near future
- If you are in India and thinking about designer babies, you are out of luck. India and many other countries like UK and China have made genetic alteration of the embryo illegal
- While the idea of designer babies sound great, the technology is not completely safe yet. Most of the work done are still in experimental stages
- An accidental miscarriage can take place if the process of creating a designer baby is not done properly
Traits Common To Designer Babies
If you are planning on having a designer baby, here are some of the features that you could modify:
- Baby’s gender
- Baby’s outward look
- Protect baby against diseases
- Alter baby’s total personality
- Improvement in baby’s level of intelligence
Benefits Of Designer Babies
Although some of the most apparent benefits of designer babies are superficial (6 feet tall, blue-eyes, blonde hair, etc.), the technology does have some remarkable merits:
- Longer life: When you genetically modify a baby, one of the first things you do is take away the defective genes. This means that designer babies would theoretically live a healthier life with fewer chances of illness. According to studies, this can add up to 30 years to a child’s life expectancy
- No genetic disorders: There are a number of illness people catch due to genetic disorders. These include Alzheimer’s disease, muscular atrophy, Down syndrome etc. Genetic modification reduces the chances of your child being impacted by many such genetic problems
- No hereditary disorders: Often, many health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart ailments and anemia are inherited from either of the parents’ families. Knowing the family history in advance will help genetic scientists to remove the problematic genes in question from the embryo
- Positive life for baby: It is hoped that designer babies will lead generally a better life as parents and scientists have called the shots in terms of the child’s health, looks and intelligence
Problems Associated With Designer Babies
As always, where there are pros, there are cons. There are many questions raised with respect to designer babies:
- Is it safe? This is still a new and evolving field. The whole process can be called, at best, experimental. While the benefits look very attractive, the procedure is risky and not 100% safe. Even a small mistake during the genetic alteration can lead to problems for the baby, and even miscarriage. It can also give rise to new illness we are not even aware of
- Is it sustainable? The impact of designer babies passing on the altered genes is not yet researched or understood
- Is it ethical? There are multiple ethical and moral questions associated with creating genetic babies. Many activists believe that modifying the genes of a child is playing God or nature. If it becomes popular, then society will soon be divided into genetically modified “near perfect” people and normal people, creating a huge gap and class difference. Many consider this unfair
- Does your baby want it? You are calling shots here. You are altering your baby’s life without his or her approval
Not everyone can afford designer babies. Only rich couples can think of putting their money and time in altering and getting a baby of their choice. Before you think of having a designer baby, make sure you have a good and hearty discussion with your doctor to understand all the pros and cons.