UK: First Baby Born From Three People's DNA

Image copyright: Getty Images [via BBC]

The Facts

  • The first baby with DNA from three people has been born in the UK through a special in vitro fertilization procedure known as mitochondrial donation treatment, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority confirmed on Tuesday.

  • Though it didn't reveal identities due to confidentiality, the authority said the number of first "three-parent babies" is less than five in the UK as of April 20.

The Spin

Narrative A

Since this technique allows a mother to prevent passing on defective genes in the mitochondria to her child, the breakthrough is good news for families who have lost multiple children to inherited mitochondrial diseases. While it needs to be monitored closely and carefully, the treatment is highly regulated and provided safely and ethically.

Narrative B

While this procedure is designed to prevent mitochondrial diseases, it isn't without risk. Besides the possibility of defective DNA replicating better than healthy DNA, changing the child's genetic composition will likely increase the risk of later health problems, such as cancer or diabetes. Also, it could dangerously open the door for "designer babies," where parents can pick and choose preferred genetic characteristics for their child.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that at least 84 gene-edited babies will have been born worldwide by the end of 2029, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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