If You Could Customize Your Own Baby, Would You Do It?
Eugenics has advanced even further, as PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) is becoming a more common practice—but it doesn’t necessarily mean parents can expect intellectually superior babies (and/or physically stronger ones).
In 2015, in the US alone, 3,000 to 4,000 babies were born via PGD without any obvious, safety issues. More, because human genome sequencing is rapidly declining in cost (from $461,370,000 in 2003 to $1,318.20 today), it'll be a realistic option in mere decades. Additionally, the PGD process now entails the ability to view the entirety of an embryo’s genome—as well as its implied future.
However, one issue with PGD is it requires IVF (in vitro fertilization). While it has been a miraculous option for millions, it can be a painful process for would-be mothers. On the flip side, because of advancements in stem-cell technology, egg harvesting will soon be bypassed. In the very-near future, a woman’s sampled, skin cells will be converted into supposedly “induced pluripotent stem cells (not unlike embryonic stem cells but taken from living people).” Upon that procedure, those cells will be modified to become eggs, which would mature in a lab! While it seems elaborate, this process would lower the cost, discomfort and risk of IVF and enable every hopeful mother to produce hundreds of eggs. (They’ve already succeeded...in mice, and human testing is underway.)
That’s basically the new cost-effective low-risk PGD. A baby-happy couple could easily go into a clinic—the man leaves a sperm sample while the woman simply leaves some skin samples. One to two weeks later, the would-be parents follow up and receive information on 100 embryos created from their cells.
Again, this option doesn’t produce super babies—selections are limited to pre-existent genetic traits only—but it will avail little-or-no-chance-of-disease children.
All this might seem like a work of science fiction, but it’s definitely an on-the-rise reality.