Parents all around the world want their child to have the best in life. But would this extend to picking the best genes for them and where do you draw the line? But without genetic technology Ruiaridh would not have been born, but does that make him a “designer baby”?
Genetic technology has only been used to treat serious diseases in children, but as we find new ways to manipulate DNA, and as these genetic technologies evolve parents will inevitably want to choose their children’s genes, and create “designer babies”. Some believe the next step is selecting genes that code for intelligence, athletic ability and hair colour.
In this documentary we follow Philippa Handyside’s son Ruiaridh, who is a genetically selected baby.
Some might call him a designer baby. But Philippa wasn’t aiming to create a perfect child and there is nothing unusual about her child’s genes. Genetic technology seemed the only way she could have a baby at all.
Philippa had a problem with her DNA. It didn’t affect her health, but it meant that most of her eggs didn’t carry all the genes needed for a baby to grow healthily. The result was that each time she became pregnant, she miscarried.
Doctors suggested that Philippa try a technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD is a technique that allows scientists to genetically profile embryos outside of the womb, prior to implanation. Doctors can select just those embryos that carry healthy genes. This ensures the baby avoids genetic abnormalities passed on by the parents.
Ruiaridh might have grown from a specially selected embryo, but he’s not really a designer baby at all. The embryo was created from one of Philippa’s eggs and her husband’s sperm, just as in IVF.