DESIGNER BABY: Fertility Clinics Offering Physical Trait Services

October 5, 2015


Want a baby with pretty brown skin, curly hair and hazel color eyes? No problem.

While everyone wants to have cute little healthy babies, would you actually go to the extremes of playing around with mother nature by changing genetic traits?

A Los Angeles fertility clinic is offering a new service that would allow couples to choose their baby's physical traits, including eye and hair color, the BBC reported.

The LA Fertility Institutes said it has already received half a dozen requests for the service and expects the first designer baby to be born next year.

“I would not say this is a dangerous road,” Jeff Steinberg, director of the clinic, told the BBC. “It's an uncharted road.”

But as the Wall Street Journal reported in February, the demand is out there:

In a recent U.S. survey of 999 people who sought genetic counseling, a majority said they supported prenatal genetic tests for the elimination of certain serious diseases. The survey found that 56% supported using them to counter blindness and 75% for mental retardation.

More provocatively, about 10% of respondents said they would want genetic testing for athletic ability, while another 10% voted for improved height. Nearly 13% backed the approach to select for superior intelligence, according to the survey conducted by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine.

The new service has sparked debate within the global medical community, raising huge questions about the ethics of genetic enhancement.

Trait-selection will be based on a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. The process has long been used for medical purposes, but never for cosmetic purposes.

Fertility clinics around the world already offer sex-selection programs.