June 7th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Baby's DNA constructed before birth

Mom gave a blood sample. Dad spit. The entire genome of their fetus was born.

Researchers at the University of Washington have, for the first time, done a near-total genome sequence of a fetus in this way.  Scientists published the results of this study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggesting that thousands of genetic diseases could be detected in children while they are still in the fetal stage.

Everyone has two copies of the human genome: One inherited from their biological mother and one from the biological father. With technology that's being used for genetic sequencing these days, it's not possible to say which variants on the chromosome you inherited from which parent.

Scientists also sequenced the cell-free component of the mother's blood - called the plasma - where about 10% of the DNA circulating is from the child, and the other 90% is from the mother. That introduces some difficulty, since it's hard to tell exactly what comes from the child.

Currently at least some component of diagnosis for genetic disorders in certain circumstances is done using technologies such as amniocentesis, which involves taking a sample of the fluid in the sac that surrounds the fetus in the womb - the mother has to have a needle inserted into her uterus, which is a lot more complicated than a simple blood test and carries some health risks.

"This might reduce the need to do invasive testing for fetuses," said Jay Shendure, associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington.

The focus of the study was the genome of a fetus whose mother's blood sample was taken at 18 weeks. The analysis of her blood, the father's saliva and the plasma contributed to a nearly full picture of the fetus's genome.  This model showed that the fetus had 39 mutations that it had not inherited from either parent.

To confirm, researchers looked at the baby's umbilical cord blood after it was born. In comparing the constructed DNA (from mom & dad's samples) and this cord sample,  researchers found five additional mutations that hadn't come from the mother or the father.  On the whole, the baby's artificially constructed genome using material from the parents was more than 98% accurate.

Researchers repeated the procedure on a different couple. This time the mother was only eight weeks pregnant when she donated her sample, and the father submitted a blood sample, which was processed in the same way that the other father's saliva was. This resulted in a fetal genome sequence that was 92% accurate.

"We could have brought it higher just by sequencing her plasma more deeply," said Jacob Kitzman, lead study author and graduate research fellow at the University of Washington.

There are also parts of the genome that technology available today just cannot measure very well, Kitzman says, so that's partly why there's not a 100% accuracy here.

Is gender selection of a fetus ethical?

Eight weeks are, however, well before mothers are able to get amniocentesis, which is often used at around 16 weeks.

It took more than a month to get the results from the sequencing, which is a lot longer than would be ideal in a clinical situation, Kitzman noted. In order to become more widespread, the technique would have to be easier to administer, quicker and less expensive.

So how much does this cost? Right now, in the ballpark of $50,000, Shendure says - and while that seems like a lot, keep in mind that this whole process involved sequencing the genomes of the mother and the father, separately analyzing the plasma and then double-checking the result with a sequence from the child's umbilical cord.

The price tag for sequencing has dropped by 10,000 fold in the last five years, Shendure says, so he expects this fetal genome technique will also become less expensive over time.

In the long-term, the technique may even help garner new insights about genetic diseases, but more immediately it would be restricted to identifying the genetic disorders that we already understand, he said.

"Whether this is the sort of thing we would do on a widespread basis for all pregnancies, that’s an open question and a complex one," he said.

The complexity comes, of course, from the ethical issues that arise concerning parents who would selectively abort fetuses that are predestined for certain conditions.

The technology worries medical ethicist Harriet Washington, who fears parents could use genome sequencing to predict and selectively abort children that don't meet certain standards - not just for diseases, but for things like hair and eye color.

“If we don’t look at the dangers, if we adopt this Pollyanna attitude and only look at the benefits, then it’s really easy to end up in a situation where we are blindsided,” Washington said.

Perhaps one day, even intelligence scores or skills could be forecasted, creating a situation akin the movie "Gattaca" where babies are basically custom-created to suit the needs of parents who can afford the technology.

What do you think about all this? Share your thoughts in the comments.

soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. Everett Wallace

    A childs DNA is constructed before conception, this ALL takes place in HEAVEN.

    June 7, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mithead


      June 7, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
    • CW

      So you're saying it was decided beforehand if a child would be born mentally handicapped? That's a pretty disturbing religion to be following, but I guess most people who believe in an imaginary world are pretty disturbing anyways.

      June 7, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      June 7, 2012 at 20:57 | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      At least there is a reason, even if you hate the LORD and His love for you.
      In your religion, there is no reason. No justice. No mercy.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
    • TakeYerMeds

      Oh, yeah...let's all believe a 2000+ year-old fantasy dreamed up by uneducated, pre-scientific era peasants. That sure trumps rational investigations.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
    • Chocorunner

      AMEN!! AMEN!!!

      June 7, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
    • SUE NOEL

      you can bett your asterisk the insurance companies will use this info to deny coverage

      June 7, 2012 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
    • Krabat

      Aw, come on you guys, this is the most hilarious comment I have read on this website in a long while.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • Tr1Xen

      When you show me irrefutable evidence to that effect, I'll believe it, sir! Until then, I'm sticking with what the doctors and scientists tell us. It's much more compelling that something written in ancient tomes from 2,000+ years ago.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • stevie

      you're either a troll or one of the least capable thinking people to learn how to operate a keypad.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:49 | Report abuse |
    • Tr1Xen

      @SUE NOEL You obviously have no understanding of how insurance works, do you?

      June 7, 2012 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      It's thinking like that that will drive our species into the abyss.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Keep drinking the kool aid.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:00 | Report abuse |
    • zeyn2010

      I wish we could stop talking about belief/faith on scientific topics!

      June 7, 2012 at 22:15 | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      @ Chris

      You can say it has no reason, morals, or anything but neither does nature.

      But we make our own ethics and morals for our civilization. We determine what is right or wrong. And saying that a baby's DNA is not determined in the womb pretty much shows someone has zero understanding of science and what has been proven over and over again.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:22 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Totally agree with you Everett! Stand proud in your beliefs of what we know is RIGHT. One day God will have the ultimate judgement on all the evil being done on Earth.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • decredico

      Bless your heart.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      What a joke. The science of this isn't close to 100%. $50,000 for a lab tests? Come on.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • avd

      "let's all believe a 2000+ year-old fantasy dreamed up by uneducated, pre-scientific era peasants"

      -uhhh... might want to actually read history. "pre-scientific era peasants?" Try this on for size: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Sound familiar? They knew more about science than you do. I'd also like to point out that "big-bang" theories aren't just recent. They've been around for centuries. Did you do any research on the Antikythera Mechanism? Think that was un-scientific?
      If that's not enough for you, perhaps you should read up on one of the worlds most brilliant scientists – Sir Isaac Newton. More brilliant than anyone posting on these boards – and yet he knew God existed.

      The only ignorant person is yourself, since you are so sheltered from reality in thinking this generation is smarter than any other. Algebra and calculus have been around far longer than you've probably read history on. Time for you to understand reality.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:33 | Report abuse |
    • Mary Carter

      Thank you Mr. Wallace. Well said. I wasn't aware there were any ethics left in the world or in this country in particular. May God put a stop to this evil and many other scientific "breakthroughs". When people are manufactured through science, God help us. P.S. When people start living forever, I thank the Good Lord that I am 74 and in poor health. This world is not worth living in, in its present state.. Wake up people!

      June 7, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • sharoom

      We can see this under a microscope. Is the microscope heaven?

      June 7, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • paganguy

      Hey. God just hates some people, make them stupid.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
    • Commojoe

      Exactly, and by an intelligence far greater than ours.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
    • zeyn2010

      I really don't get it – on one hand you guys say babies are created in heaven on the other it is claimed they are born with sin and that humans have to ask for forgiveness all their lives! It's such a contradiction! It's like creating a robot and programming a code in it which makes it imperfect on purpose and then demanding it to apologize for its imperfection for it all its existence.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:53 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Dr Frankenstien lives

      June 7, 2012 at 23:01 | Report abuse |
    • Marine5484

      I knew I would find some ridiculous religion comment on this page but not that quick! Sorry to disturb your little world but we are figuring out more and more secrets about ourselves and the universe and your going to have to live with the fact that god is less and less important.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
    • codeinc

      God's hand is not in every little thing. God no more decides if an ant will be born with the right number of legs than he does a human baby. According to scripture, God gave man free will so he had the right to choose the path of good or not. Deciding for someone that they will have a crippling physical or mental disease is not free will. It is meddling. God does not make retarded babies. It is simply something that happens.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      So you agree that sceintists are Godless people?

      June 7, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
  2. I_am_Canadian

    Amen Everett! Hence, why no alterations are to be done to our bodies...there's no need. God is perfection.

    June 7, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bob

      Perfection ??? look around at gods creations crooked teeth, evil people, crazy people, hate abound. i think man needs to step and and fix some things

      June 7, 2012 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
    • Oh Really?

      So, if GOd makes our bodies' perfect', then why do you try and improve on God's design by chopping off the foreskin of little infant boys? Obviously you are saying that you can improve on his design. Lets not even mention all the life saving surgeries and procedures done by neonatal specialists.

      June 7, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • Hez316)

      He is but we most certainly are not

      June 7, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
    • TAK

      Hey Hez, if a perfect creator creates something imperfect then he is by definition no longer perfect.

      June 7, 2012 at 20:58 | Report abuse |
    • Dan


      June 7, 2012 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • zeyn2010

      I agree with Dan.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      Tell that to someone who is dying from Huntington's Disease. If God is a designer, he should be fired.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:08 | Report abuse |
    • Bet

      If god created such a perfect thing, then why do strands of DNA have telomeres and the end replication problem? Seems that god's perfect creation wouldn't have a built in aging process that inevitably leads to its death.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  3. hahah

    illuminati is here

    June 7, 2012 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Northwestern Med

    To some people the ethics underlying this kind of research are horrifying. I think it makes sense to limit (by law) the information doctors can share once a genome has been sequenced then analyzed. Anything unrelated to the health or future health of an individual should be strictly off-limits. It will take some time and expertise to decide what is relevant and what is not. If they are only given the ability to share information regarding specific diseases then we don't even need to contemplate an entire generation of hand-picked babies. There are ways to navigate through the new information that genomic sequencing gives us without destroying the diversity that makes us human.

    June 7, 2012 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hez316)

      Sounds like an underground market will develop quickly

      June 7, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • jherara

      Sadly, this type of research may lead to genetic profiling to refuse insurance coverage or claims. I can see the good with this, but there is an incredible amount of bad that can result.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
    • Syphor

      @jherara – Eventually tho who would need medical insurance? all defects would be weeded out so you'd have no medical problems.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      "It will take some time and expertise to decide what is relevant and what is not."

      How about you let the people responsible for the fetus to make that decision?

      June 7, 2012 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      I tend to think that people that think that "disease" is easily defined, and thus easily weeded out, are those that have only ever experienced "diseases" like the common cold. Is a fetus with Trisomy 21 "diseased" such that it should not be carried to term? What about fetuses that have explosions of neural growth associated with Autisim? I'd bet that those who have only ever had experience with those with Down Syndrome or Autism who were raised before these kids were treated like human beings (let alone given their best chance) fail to see the possibilities of the fetuses they are determining are diseased.

      What is frightening is that young medical students and doctors, without any idea of what a child or adult who is not typical can provide, are being taught that there is value in weeding these people (or fetuses) out (why else the push to identify the "imperfect?") For so long babies who were not typical were hidden away, not given the chance at just being kids, and not educated, such that everyone – including those who are doctors or medical students now – have no idea what these people have to offer and what they can be. At what point will the people, who aren't like everyone around them, have the chance to show what they can do for themselves, and what they can do for others? The truth is that these people not only suffer from the harm of stereotypes, but ones created by the fact that their parents and the doctors that could have actually helped them, were so selfish and heartless, that they conspired to lock these people away from anything and everything that would give them a chance.

      Just once, I would like a medical person to acknowledge the truth. The push to identify the "imperfect" before it is an embryo, fetus, or child, is because of the medical belief that there is a "perfect" and that anything less has less value. The Nazi's may personify it, but the medical establishment seems to embrace it without ever acknowledging that it is really just biological (as opposed to ethnic) cleansing.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
    • maham

      hez316 – if there is the ability to do it then their will automatically be an underground market, for the extremely privileged of course.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:48 | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      @ Sara – Assuming that it is "biological cleansing" (your arguments are in fact illogical, but I'll ignore that for now), so what? A fetus is not a person. The fact that it MAY become a person is irrelevant. I MAY win the lottery or get hit by a car tomorrow, but I do not treat those possibilities as facts. If we could create embryos free of genetic defects, I don't see the downside in that.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
  5. Clear and Present Thinker

    "...babies are basically custom-created to suit the needs of parents who can afford the technology.'

    Duck, more Republicans on the way.

    June 7, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      Except not at all because most republicans don't agree with aborting babies.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
    • Laughalot

      The Republicans will be against it....except for the ones who are rich enough to utilize the science and those will find some way to make it "God's Will".

      June 7, 2012 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Martin


    June 7, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. dentate

    As a physician I can tell you that whatever they actually did, the information in this article is so garbled in the reporting that it's incomprehensibe. Typical lousy CNN reportage. My best guess is that they looked at the father's and mother's DNA, compared it with what they found in the plasma that was different from either parent, and concluded that these were new mutations in the fetus. You absolutely cannot "construct" the genome of a fetus, which happens in the process of meiosis that creates the sperm and eggs and at the time that a particular egg and sperm unite at conception. Because of the recombination of each parent's chromosomes at meiosis, every egg and every sperm produced by each parent will have a different combination of those parents' genes, and thus each child that results will be different in a way that cannot be predicted (identical twins are simply clones, one product of conception split into two individuals). Thus, no one is creating something here; this is a garbled report of an attempt to look at genetic defects early on.

    June 7, 2012 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • alfred

      "where about 10% of the DNA circulating is from the child" – it does imply that they attempt to use the fetus' DNA during the test, though with noted difficulty of differentiating mother vs fetus.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      AGREED! I'm a med student and I still don't understand what the news story is. Also 98% similarity of a genome is not very high! We share 93% of DNA with some primate species! They lost me at how they constructed the fetal genome after they got DNA samples from the mother and father.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:04 | Report abuse |
    • Jared S

      I just read the abstract. I am pretty sure they sequenced DNA of all three members of the family: father's, mother's, and fetus' from mother's plasma. The made a comparison and took out all mutations from fetus DNA; using that to determine something.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
    • scientist

      Agreed: misleading & clueless reporting

      June 7, 2012 at 22:48 | Report abuse |
    • Willis

      @Jason. You don't understand it because most med students don't do any actual research. You just follow pre-boxed recipes without having to actually think(special exceptions to MD/PhD students)... For the record, I am a PhD student studying DNA Repair/Cancer Biology.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
    • Luis Wu

      They constructed it in the sense that they figured out the genomic sequence of the fetus, including haplotyping, which is REALLY hard. The trick is figuring out what fraction of the DNA free-floating in the mother's bloodstream is different from the mother's own DNA, then map the haplotypes of that DNA back to the mother and the father.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
  8. Keksi

    Satan still trying to figure out how God made life.

    June 7, 2012 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jared S

      Are you against all science?

      June 7, 2012 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
  9. Mia

    Takes the humanity out of being human.

    June 7, 2012 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      After reading much of todays news, humanity seems pretty overrated.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse |
  10. sugar

    Let me know when science discovers the smart aleck gene. I'd have loved to have been able to select that out of my son! >,<

    June 7, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      Amen to that!

      June 7, 2012 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
  11. TAK

    I'm still uncertain how this test has anything to do with the fetus. They take blood from mom, spit from dad... why does mom even have to be pregnant? And how is this predictive of the individual child? Brothers and sisters would have identical results. So this test to me seems to only predict the genetic makeup of all of a couple's potential offspring, not a specific individual.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adnan Khan

      Spit from the father is for differentiating mother's genes and the fetuses. Basically what happens when a child is in the womb cells from the fetus while it is growing expire and then the mother's body then recycles them (essentially breaks them down for nutrients) The same process that happens within us all the time. This blood test picks them up when they are in the mother's plasma. Of course then what happens is that there is no "filtration" of the DNA, the cells from the sample are all burst and any DNA is removed, which includes the DNA from the fetus and the mother. The doctor's know the mother's genome. Anything that is in there that is not from the mother must be from the fetus, different regions can be from the mother, and others can be from the father. The father's DNA in combination with the mother and fetuses DNA is analysed to construct the fetuses genome, this is why there is a loss of accuracy.

      Brothers and sisters will NOT have identical results. Each gamate (sperm and egg) contains a unique genome, when a sperm cell fertilizes the current egg, the fetus consists of chromosomes from the father, and the mother. Each gamate contains a unique mix of the parents the mother, and the parents of the father.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
    • Luis Wu

      Except they don't actually know the mother's DNA, since they didn't sequence it before she got pregnant. They had to deconvolute what came from the mother and what came from the fetus based on sequencing their DNA pooled together.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:34 | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    To Bob:
    Perfection ??? look around at gods creations crooked teeth, evil people, crazy people, hate abound. i think man needs to step and and fix some things

    Yeah. We're awesome. We never screw up. Let's make a super man. It'll be great!
    Maybe we could start something that'll last a thousand years!

    June 7, 2012 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alice

      Good makes life, not people. People make people. If God says don't have gay relations and you do and contract gay bowel disease or aids, why do you then blame God? You should be blaming yourself. Birth defects are from man-made causes. Mock God at your own risk, fools.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
    • MaryInBoise

      @Alice–First of all, "gay bowel disease"? What the? Definition, please. Never heard of that one.

      Second of all, all birth defects have man-made causes? Yes, some do. But not all. Some are caused by spontaneous genetic mutations. But then, maybe you think we should go back to the time when there were no antibiotics to treat diseases that used to kill millions, and no treatments for cancer, in fact, no treatments that kept pre-maturely born babies alive! God's will and all that. OR, maybe if God does exist (I don't know for sure), he made humans with thinking minds that could come up with these treatments.

      Minds are like parachutes, to use the old cliche'. They only work when OPEN.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:01 | Report abuse |
  13. sherri

    Life's challenges are where people do shine. Taking out the imperfections makes life imperfect. Life is just the way it is supposed to be with all the challenges people are expected to overcome. If you notice, people that do not handle stress or challenges very often tend to be weak minded and weak people in general.
    I take on all olf life's challenges, crooked teeth, evil, stupid people intertwined with incredibly caring human people as well.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike

      Those are very little things. How about born with heart defect that could be detected with this. Or some of the even more cruel illnesses children get. I think you need to look at things with a much broader view

      June 7, 2012 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
  14. Josie T. Dogg

    How about a cure for cancer; or a common cold; or flu. What about studying the endocrine system to actually get to the root of mental illness instead of treating only the symptoms that are caused by endocrine anomoly? Where's the research money for alzheimers disease. Seems to me Darwin is already sorting the wheat from the chaff adequately, except when the holier than thou egotistical Doctors save infants who are then handicapped for life. Every day the medical world gets dumber and dumber and there's no cure for stupid. As long as health care remains for-profit business, there will be no cure for anything that generates billions in doctor visits and pharmeceuticals.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. BD

    Withholding information for ethical reasons has never had the effect thats been desired. Its much more effective, and ethical, to inform and educate.

    I would pose a question: What about the parents that would welcome a child regardless of disease or deffect? Would this information not allow them to make choices in terms of finance, logistics, etc that might mitigate the difficulty posed by thier child?

    Its not a simple problem and won't have a simple solution but keeping information from people, regardless of intent, often does more harm than good.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. itoldyouso10

    "G-A-T-T-A-C-A, give me a G-A-T-T-A-C-A!" or "KHAANNN"!!!!!-Anyway, I have always thought that genetic engineering and desinger genes would become a huge thing in this century and onward, but we should be careful to keep this science in reason. The science is a tool, but it is only our actions that will cause damage not just on an ethical scale, but on our evolution as a species as well...so the best answer is that we at least elimanate some deadly genetic diseases, but we should be careful beyond that. When does genocide occur if no one is getting killed but we are tweaking ourselves so much that it backfires and we elimante things that could be beneficial to humanity? It is not that we shouldn't do this, but we have to be careful and realize we are walkng a very fine line with this as well...but I have to say, it is an amazing problem to have in reality today, isn't it?

    June 7, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. chan

    3/4 the mass deaths will finally end on Earth when these Men in clouds myths finally die.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. SmokedHookah

    Science grows our body of knowledge. Religions reinterpret their doctrines.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. TJ

    Anyone watch "Gattacca" lately? Don't worry, our great grandkids will be living it (or not).

    June 7, 2012 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jim Weix

    This discovery should keep the religious right nut cases busy for awhile.
    Too bad that they can't grasp the concept that God gave us brains and He hopes that we can now use this gift to prevent the misery of bringing damaged children into the world.
    Oh wait, if we prevented the births of brain damaged children, then there would be no religious right.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • biglifter

      you're an idiot

      June 7, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Miller

      @Jim Weix. What an uncaring label to hang in a child already starting out their life with a handicap. What a nice individual you must be. I'm so impressed by your empathy and powers of observation. What a guy.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
  21. Daph18

    Wht does religion have to be dragged conversations about science?

    June 7, 2012 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Nicoleasm

    One Step Forward for Parents to be....Two steps back for Humans to be.

    I think this can be deadly for unborn fetus'....remember the case of the parents who sued the doctor for misdiagnosing their baby with down's syndrome, where they said they would have aborted the baby otherwise. The doctor accidentally took blood samples from the placenta and not the fetus. There's good and bad implications in this.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Tracy

    what i found interesting is the fetus had 39 mutations that it had not inherited from either parent, with 5 more being found after birth. having had a child who died of a rare immune deficiency–with no known family history and two siblings who continue to be healthy–I often wondered if his mutation was a mix up in utero. our DNA was also sequenced but what good did that do us when science hasn't caught up yet? Doctors and researchers have no idea what all the mutations mean so its hard to say where his came from. Waiting for the day science catches up so we'll have an answer. Doesn't bring our boy back but maybe it'll help other families so they don't share our same fate.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jared S

      Mutations can be good, bad, or neither. When they throw around a number like that it is just a way to just how different something is. In entertainment they have done a great job of making mutations seem like something that is always bad.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:47 | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      @Jared.. in our case, it was devastating.

      On another note: Im reading through this thread (and with the exception of a few people) most seem to be missing the boat on this. I suppose until its some sort of devastating illness happening to 'you' its all fun and games to joke about. Sad.

      June 8, 2012 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
  24. Paulie

    Did these parents KNOW that their cord blood was being used in this experiment? I was told even if you save your childs cord blood and pay for it they (the hospital) can still use it without your consent when my son was born. Coincidentally my wife who got temporary state assistance and is a stay at home mother was sent to the geneticist and was told it was because she was 40 years old when we had our first child. How many other pregnant women getting government aid has this happened to? What are the peoples names who participated? I question the ethics for sure.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tracy

      clearly the parents participated in the study... unless, of course, they stole the dad's spit and the mom's blood without them knowing. You really think a major research university is going to publish a study where they stole umbilical cord blood? This isn't HELA cells we're talking about.

      It is standard practice for anyone over 35 to be referred to a genetic counselor. she had the option of saying no.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
    • Jared S

      The older the mother is, the more likely she is to give birth to a child with trisomy 21.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Tracy, in TX, they do forcefully withdraw blood from each baby born in a hospital for general research. Much of that blood is sent to the US military (scary). A piece of my baby was stolen, without my consent. They do this, you are not allowed to refuse consent.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:53 | Report abuse |
  25. biglifter


    June 7, 2012 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Andrew

    This will prevent a whole lot of heartbreak, or 98% of heartbreak. If the information is provided to parents only for serious diseases, I'm OK with that. If parents use it to selectively abort fetuses who will not be not tall enough or won't have the desired hair color, that needs to be a firm NO.

    In fact, I can see this becoming a part of eHarmony-type of match-making websites, where people hook up only with "genetically healthy" partners. And that's fine too.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paulie

      LOL do you know eHarmony was just hacked 6.4 million passwords it was just announced today? They were part of a massive cyber attack along with Linkedin.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bring'm Young

      What's wrong with natural selection?

      June 7, 2012 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      I.E. Gattica

      June 7, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Andrew, the reality is that "health" insurance companies will use this to deny coverage. "pre-existing condition" ya know?

      But that's the way repubs like it.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
  27. Paul

    Everyone is free to believe what they want. Science is unlocking God and the question will never be answered. There will always be no beginning and no end. Existence does not allow for infinity to be fallacy.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CJ

      ...and never eat yellow snow

      June 7, 2012 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • Raven

      So for the sake of argument, how much do you think he will let them unlock in their quest to be a God.
      After all the people who are doing this research and experimentation are simply walking in Gods footsteps.

      Kinda like a internship in being a creator.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
  28. Bring'm Young

    That should get rid of gays and pedophiles once and for all.

    June 7, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bigboxes

    and then aborted! Woo hoo! Here's to DNA testing!

    June 7, 2012 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 0rangeW3dge

    Yeah sure, that's what they said about vaccinations, and look what happened.
    Don't believe in Science. They're just trying to trick you into voting for a Communist w/ a tan...

    June 7, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike

      Seems to make sure I didn't get Polio, Measles or the Mumps.....seems they worked.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  31. CJ

    I totally agree with using this informatin to make human lives better, to make life longer and healthier. However, I also feel we need to look at birth control if we are going to meddle with the human genome and human longevity. Otherwise we are just pouring water into a full pitcher.

    For those religious people out there: "God" has entrusted us with these gifts and we have a responsibility to use them wisely. If we don't we will be punished...or whatever. Either way...GOD will determine what is right or wrong...not some zealot fundamentalist Christian who read a 2000 year old book and thinks they have all the answers. (And by "God" I mean budda, allah, Set, mother nature, the giant purple spaghetti monster, monday night football...whatever "thing" you look to for answers when you are to scared to seek them out yourself...)

    June 7, 2012 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff Miller

      There you go again CJ. Thinking you know more than whomever. That error guarantees you will be proven wrong, in time. When will you learn!? It's in the Book!

      June 7, 2012 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
  32. blessedgeek

    The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, 'WELL DONE, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

    "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'" His master replied, 'You WICKED, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

    Which of the following is the type Alef servant and which is type Gimel?

    Good ... now we know at an early stage who needs extra health-care. We will invest our material wealth in comprehensive health care so that those unfortunate ones will receive the health mitigation they need. We will expand investments for the good of humankind.

    Good .. now we know at an early stage who needs extraneous health care. We will divest our obligations and isolate our riches from the undeserving because biblically speaking each of us should take care of our own sickness and health. We will hide our material wealth from being randomly harvested from us. After all humankind is evil, and we should not make this world too perfect ti avoid overshadowing the good works the coming messiah will bring.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Raven

    Ok, so we know a baby is going to be born with defects. Then what. Kill it?

    June 7, 2012 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike

      Nope...get government assistance to cover all the medical bills and maybe prepare yourself that your child will be living with you the rest of your life as they can't care for themselves.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
  34. Michael

    This technology is amazing and should be developed for all. No one is going to abort a fetus for eye color or hair color. But, it will allow parents to make informed decisions to would keep a child from being born with debilitating diseases or conditions.
    And, if anyone thinks that's 'playing God', doctors said the exact same thing about organ transplants and artificial hearts once. Now, we consider them without negative connotations. We as a species must move forward, even if that means redefining our own definition of humanity along the way. We have been playing God since the day we invented novacain and aspirin....

    June 7, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Stephen Thomas

    As the father of a child with a rare Genetic Disorder resulting from a spontaneous mutation in a single gene, I can tell you that even being 98% or better in accuracy doesn’t mean a lot when it only takes 1 little change to have drastic consequences.

    I don't see any value in this and would rather people focus on just being happy to be able to have a health baby.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jtucker4

      So you're saying if we can correct a human being to a degree of 98% accuracy we shouldn't do it at all. Your logic is sound.

      June 7, 2012 at 22:19 | Report abuse |
  36. BlackDynamite

    A lot more significant than 90% of the press releases CNN is passing off as news today....

    June 7, 2012 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. mrmailman

    Buh bye gays?

    June 7, 2012 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. mark

    Since chimps and humans are, on average 96% the same, the, "more than 98% accurate" sequencing of the first case and the, "92% accurate" sequencing in the second case leave quite a bit to be desired.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jtucker4

    Come on fellow believers! Reply to this message if you believe some guy rounded up two of everything and put them on a boat!

    June 7, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. luvy

    ~Age is just a number for us , My husband and i both think so..
    He is almost 11year older than me .i met him via ~【boomermingle.℃om 】

    June 7, 2012 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Cal

    There is good reason to be nervous

    June 7, 2012 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Bull13

    The next logical step in human evolution is genetic engineering. It just makes sense.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. phab585

    Futures made of virtual insanity. Now every mother can choose the color of her child – that's not nature's way, but that's what I read yesterday.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Sean

    What a joke. The science of this isn't close to 100%. $50,000 for a lab tests? Come on.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Joan Olsson

    I think it's interesting that, although they clearly want to keep calling the baby a fetus, they slip back several times into calling it a baby or child. It's hard work denying reality.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. nate

    A big digital yawn to the religious trolling abounding in these parts.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Alicia

    It's amazing how people are really terrified of God.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Disanitnodicos

    Eradicate the gene for ugly.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blah9999

      right behind the gene for stupid

      June 7, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
  49. blah9999

    HA!! They're only using Illumina GAIIs? Come on, get with the times. If you really want to increase your output and bring down your costs, get a HiSeq 2000.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. jC in Western U.S.

    My issue is whether or not parents have a right to know everything about a child's genetics before the child knows. I'm not sure that putting parents in the position of having to decide when to reveal something to a child is a good idea. What if, in the future we are able to know before birth that a child will have a good chance for getting ovarian cancer. When do parents tell that to their child? Do they tell her in an attempt to get her to having children early, or do they tell her in an attempt to get her to never have children? Or do they tell her just because they should? Or not tell her because they shouldn't? I wouldn't want to be put in that position.

    June 7, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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