What to Read Next

Is The Age Of Designer Babies Finally Upon Us?

Sophie Tighe
#ICYMI
21 July 2014

There was a time when designer babies, genome modification and DIY DNA seemed like the stuff of sci-fi novels.

While we might not yet be at the point of choosing a blue-eyed, blonde bouncing baby, a trend for gender selection is growing both in the UK and the US with high profile celebrities admitting to the practice.



Controversial millionaire Joe Francis, creator of the deplorable ‘Girls Gone Wild’ franchise and close friend of Kim Kardashian, is expecting twins with his girlfriend Abbey Wilson and the couple have been open about their choice to use IVF not to help them conceive but to choose the sex of their babies.

"We both wanted girls and we wanted them to be healthy and free of genetic diseases so we chose to do IVF," Abbey told Us Weekly.

The process of gender selection, also known as “family balancing”, is currently banned here in the UK but the number of British women going abroad to choose the sex of their baby is increasing by 20 per cent year on year.

Hundreds of these use the services of California-based Dr. Daniel Potter, whose fertility clinic charges around £7600 to help parents ‘design’ their embryo so that it's not only their choice of gender but is free from certain genetic diseases.

In the US, 1 in 10 IVF cycles are specifically for gender selection and an overwhelming 80 per cent of prospective British parents opt for baby girls.



The process involves both eggs and sperm being taken from mother and father and artificially fertilised, the same as normal IVF.

Only the embryo of the desired sex is transferred to the uterus, the other embryos are frozen, donated or disposed of.

For a country where the right to have an abortion is constantly under threat of being repealed, it seems incongruous that cherry picking fertilised embryos is becoming increasingly common.

While the UK doesn’t show any sign of making gender selection legal, three-parent babies could be around as early as 2015.

Developed by British scientists, three-parent IVF involves DNA from three donors or ‘parents’ to create an embryo free from debilitating diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

Certain genetic diseases can be transmitted through mitochondrial DNA, which is strictly inherited from the mother.

This new process, which is currently illegal in the UK, takes the nucleus from the carrier ‘mother’ and places this inside the ‘disease-free’ cytoplasm of another egg, which has had its nucleus removed.

This 'double DNA' egg is then fertilised by the ‘father’ sperm, creating an embryo with three sets of DNA.



According to Dr. Peter Braude, former Head of the Department of Women’s Health at King’s College London, the restrictions put in place if three-parent IVF becomes legal mean that the practice will not be abused.

“It is true that genetic alteration of disease risk is an important step for society and should not be taken lightly.”

“However the proposed changes to the regulations ensure it will be limited to informed couples, who understand from sad personal experience the significant effects of their disease.”

The argument for preventing life-threatening diseases is not a tough one to get behind, however public opinion on choosing the gender of your unborn child is understandably split.

Asking the question, “Where will it stop?” no longer seems like the deluded over-reaction of frantic individuals but a very real question that as yet will go unanswered.

What do you think about gender selection and three-parent babies? Let us know over on Twitter.

[Baby survives miscarriage and abortion, born healthy]

Gender selection is already legal in the US and more Brit women are opting to choose their baby's sex [AFP]
Gender selection is already legal in the US and more Brit women are opting to choose their baby's sex [AFP]

Joe Francis (right) is expecting twin girls, chosen specifically by gender selection IVF. [Rex]
Joe Francis (right) is expecting twin girls, chosen specifically by gender selection IVF. [Rex]

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

If you drive less than 55 miles/day OR have no DUI's you can get auto insurance for as low as $29/ Month! See if you qualify.

Snoring is worse for your health than you think.

Studies show snoring is far more dangerous to your health most people suspect. It's a real problem that needs a solution. I found THE solution.

Golfers: Hit Straight Every Time

12-Time PGA Winner Shows You How to Hit Longer, Straighter, More Accurately,

Navy Seal Flashlight Should Be Banned From Public?

'Worlds Brightest' military grade flashlight now available to the public. Get this flashlight before it's banned or runs out! (Limited Supply)

Looking for Today's Hot Offers?

Get a Sofa Dog Bed for less! Compare the latest prices and save big now at HomeGardenPro!

20 Most Insane Items You Can Purchase Online

Many people probably have the idea that the great online store, Amazon, is the best web store for buying practical household items like kitchen...

Update Your Look: Bell Sleeves

Navy Seal Flashlight Should Be Banned From Public?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - limited supply!

Finally, a snoring fix that beats CPAP

Studies show snoring is far more dangerous to your health most people suspect. It's a real problem that needs a solution. I found THE solution.

Looking for Today's Hot Offers?

Get great deals on Selina King Quilts for less with a great selection in color and materials.

Simple Solution for Coloring Gray Hair

If you color your hair at home, do yourself a favor - ditch the generic drugstore box and try this new gray hair solution:

10 Signs You May Have a Thyroid Problem

While approximately 59-million people in the US suffer from thyroid issues—the great majority aren’t even aware they have a problem.

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage

Don't pay your next mortgage payment until you read this. It's the ingenious way to pay off your mortgage.

Golfers: Hit Straight Every Time

12-Time PGA Winner Shows You How to Hit Longer, Straighter, More Accurately,_

Our #1 Rated Flashlight for Home Protection

HIgh performance tactical flashlight available to the public. 75% off--limited supply. Light up even the darkest corners and protect your family.