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Many Couples Opting For "Designer Babies"

Nearly 50% of fertility clinics in the US are allowing parents to select the sex of their child, a survey found. It also found that in 9 percent of the cases there was no need to perform Sex selection. //

Dr. William Gibbons, president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which assisted with the survey, said that in most cases the gender selection tests were being performed for the right reasons like avoiding genetically transmitted diseases.

"There are thousands of babies born now that we know are going to be free of lethal and/or devastating genetic diseases. That's a good thing," he said. But some survey findings indicate that Americans are seeking "designer babies" in increased numbers.

"That's a big problem if that's true," Boston University ethicist George Annas said of the sex-selection finding. "This is not a risk-free technique." Lead researcher Susanna Baruch, a lawyer at Johns Hopkins University's Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington conducted the survey of 415 fertility clinics, of which 190 responded.

While in many cases pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD was used to detect life-threatening diseases, sex selection was also a factor. "This is the first time anyone has tried to quantify how often PGD is done and what it's being offered for," Baruch said

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