October 23, 2018
What if you could choose who your children are? Soon science may make it a reality. Our DNA genes are what make us, us. It determines everything ranging from our hair color, sex, and eye color (Randerson). Now with new technology on the brink of reality we may soon be able to view and make decisions based off of the DNA of all unborn children. (Alleyne)
Using the mother’s blood, it is now possible to identify and use that information to create a genetic map for a child in the womb. “It has long been known that during pregnancy around 10 per cent of the mother’s blood plasma contains the DNA of the unborn child.” (Alleyne). Although now with developments we are able to take the mothers DNA and separate it so we get a complete view of the unborn child’s DNA. This will give us the ability to identify genetic disorders and “Eventually as genetic research improves it could also be used to obtain information on the risk of your child developing other diseases such as cancer and heart disease later in life” (Alleyne)
DNA or Deoxyribonucleic Acid “…contains the instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce.” (Deoxyribonucleic). These instructions are like blueprints that our body uses to create proteins when our bodies “enzymes read the information in a DNA molecule and transcribe it into an intermediary molecule called messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA” (Deoxyribonucleic). Then this information is used to tell our body how to use our amino acids, the building block of proteins and how to form them to create complex proteins. These proteins continue doing the work in our bodies forming our muscles, hair, bones and all matter of our being (Deoxyribonucleic). With our body having 20 Amino acids and the estimated ability to produce over 2 million different proteins (How Many Proteins). Using these proteins our body composes all components of our body. So if for example there is a particular DNA cell that has been mutated or is abnormal it can cause “Chromosomal abnormalities occur where there are missing or extra chromosomes, or pieces of chromosomes. Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal abnormality, is caused by an extra chromosome number 21” (Genetic Disorders). This causes intellectual and physical abnormalities. Some of these physical abnormalities include flattened face, small head, protruding tongue, unusually shaped or small ears and many other physical deformities (Down Syndrome).
The implications of this new form of technology is limitless. There are over 6,000 known disorders directly linked with your DNA (Department of Health). With “Over 2 percent of all-American pregnancies are complicated by serious birth defects, and more than 0.5 percent of all fetuses have either a missing or an extra chromosome—a condition that leads to problems like Down or Edwards syndrome.” (Sanghavi). With the ability to see and read these with the child early in the womb we will be able to have early detection of any form of disability/disorder the child could experience due to their DNA. With this information parents who are unable/ unwilling to raise a child with difficulties would be able to secure an abortion. Autism, a disorder that has been shown to be linked to faulty genes is one such example. For a child with autism can cost over 2.4 million dollars and round the clock care for a parent to raise (Taylor). Considering that the average American income for a married couple in 2015 was $67,565 (Frankel). The time and money required to raise a child with such a disability is a almost impossible task causing couples to lead a much more stressful and financially difficult life then they would have had if their child was born normal.
This new and powerful technology has the potential to help our society become healthier and happier with pruning of potential harmful genetic disorders by removing them from the genepool. However, whether or not people take advantage of ensuring they give birth to a child with a healthy and normal DNA sequence is up to choose. But if you could make sure your child was healthy, would you?
Alleyne, Richard. “Babies DNA Profiled in the Womb.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 9 Dec. 2010, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8189668/Babies-DNA-profiled-in-the-womb.html.
“Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Fact Sheet.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), www.genome.gov/25520880/deoxyribonucleic-acid-dna-fact-sheet/.
Department of Health & Human Services. “Genetic Disorders.” Better Health Channel, 30 June 2014, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/genetic-disorders.
“The Discovery of DNA.” Stories, The Public Engagement Team at the Welcome Genome Campus, 26 Feb. 2018, www.yourgenome.org/stories/the-discovery-of-dna.
“Down Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/down-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355977.
Frankel, Matthew. “Here’s the Average American Household Income — How Do You Compare?” The Motley Fool, The Motley Fool, 30 Oct. 2016, www.fool.com/retirement/2016/10/30/heres-the-average-american-household-income-how-do.aspx.
“Genetic Disorders of the Fetus.” Genetic Disorders of the Fetus | Pavilion for Women, women.texaschildrens.org/program/high-risk-pregnancy-care/conditions/genetic-disorders.
“How Many Proteins Exist in Human Body?” Innovateus.net, www.innovateus.net/health/how-many-proteins-exist-human-body.
“What Causes Autism?” My Child Without Limits RSS, www.mychildwithoutlimits.org/understand/autism/what-causes-autism/.
Randerson, James. “What DNA Can Tell Us.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Apr. 2008, www.theguardian.com/science/2008/apr/27/genetics.cancer.
Regalado, Antonio. “Forecasts of Genetic Fate Just Got a Lot More Accurate.” MIT Technology Review, 10 Aug. 2018, www.technologyreview.com/s/610251/forecasts-of-genetic-fate-just-got-a-lot-more-accurate/.
Sanghavi, Darshak. “Why Are We So Surprised By Major Birth Defects?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 19 Oct. 2011, slate.com/technology/2011/10/prenatal-testing-birth-defects-often-come-as-a-surprise.html.
Taylor, Chris. “The Costs of Raising an Autistic Child | Money.” Time, 24 June 2014, time.com/money/2918134/cost-raising-autistic-child/.