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Young Adults and Addiction: The Benefits of Inpatient Care

For many young people, drug use and experimentation is a rite of passage of sorts. However, experimenting with drugs and alcohol is far from harmless, and can often result in lifelong...

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Robin Elise Weiss

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Designer Genes

Designer Genes

The nine months of pregnancy is exciting—and also a constant state of worry (at least for me). You’re always wondering if everything is going to be OK, and even when it is, you have the rest of your child’s life to worry about his or her well-being (as my mother reminds me, even when your child is an adult, you still worry.) So I was intrigued when I saw the story on the British woman that will give birth this week to the first baby selected to be free of a gene which greatly increases the risk of breast cancer.

The 27-year-old woman decided to take the step because several of her husband’s close female relatives suffered from breast cancer. The baby grew from an embryo screened to make sure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene, which would have given it a 50 to 80% chance of developing breast cancer.

One group warned against the medical breakthrough, saying the selection takes science “further along the line which ultimately ends in designer babies.” I disagree: what parent wouldn’t seize the opportunity to come close to ensuring that their child will be spared a potentially-fatal disease? But using science to guarantee the sex of the baby—or their appearance—is taking things too far. What do you think? –Linda DiProperzio

Posted: 12/24/08
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LauraLee311

Oh boy, I can see how this could get very ethically messy. I agree that if I could prevent my child from getting a gene that would increase his or her risk for certain cancers or other fatal diseases, I would do it. I also agree that I would not want to use gene technology to determine my child's sex, height, weight, intelligence, appearance, etc. However, other parents might not see anything wrong with selecting these characteristics because they're doing so in the name of providing their child with the best life possible. It's hard to say one is OK, but not the other.