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. Sanity

    Can we detect the liberal gene?

    June 7, 2012 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Captain Hindsight

      It's obviously on the X chromosome.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      If so, let's get busy replicating it right away!

      June 7, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The liberal gene has an easy fix.... Once someone gets a job and stops relying on government for subsistance, they can be cured

      June 7, 2012 at 23:27 | Report abuse |
    • David

      The conservative gene is the same as the stupid gene apparently.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse |
    • Science>God

      It is scary when all you can think about is politics. You know things are great in moderation not conservative nor liberal.

      You r brain-washed, put all this energy towards something positive in life instead of being snotty on a CNN chat board.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:45 | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      I think we should first go after the Political Troll gene. That is the worst disease of all.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • tea

      if mother drinks a lot of tea , baby has a liberal gene

      June 8, 2012 at 01:00 | Report abuse |
    • Flyingarchitect

      Brain dead partisan zombie.

      June 8, 2012 at 06:52 | Report abuse |
    • rick

      amazing how inbred fvcks use any story to take a political swipe.

      June 8, 2012 at 07:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Adidasle

    Ouch, I just tripped over a fairy tale and stumbled upon a science journal. Oh, nevermind it was the bible. Smile, heaven, hell, and religion are all a hoax.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Captain Hindsight

      hell is not a hoax. i'm living in it right now.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • Raven

      50-50 shot, wonder which one you'll win.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
    • ArranWebb

      A hoax would suggest it is a Creation. So you are right again.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • znhcats

      "hell is not a hoax. i'm living in it right now."

      It implied that you're a satan.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Ahhhh Adidasle, nice to hear a rational voice!

      June 7, 2012 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
    • peick

      No, spare us your triumphant wit! Your powerful rhetoric...your...your...incontrovertible intelligence. We cannot bear up under it, wise sage.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:42 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Captain, I'm sort of sorry to hear that, and hope you will get through it okay.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:49 | Report abuse |
    • chicago7

      Or married.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Raven. According to you its 50-50 on a hell. Well if there is you have 1 in 5000 that you picked the right religion. That is only active religions if you consider all religions that are far closer to the begining of life than you can bump that up by another million or so. Well good luck that you didn't insult the "real God" if you ever down played someone else's beliefs and they were the right ones.

      June 8, 2012 at 08:11 | Report abuse |
  3. olepi

    We are the last of the wild DNA. Before the manipulations began.

    Back when birth defects were blind chance.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bananaspy

      Starring Adrian Brody. Rated PG 13.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:51 | Report abuse |
    • chicago7

      Gattaca. Great film.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse |
    • MarkGlicker

      This article was interesting.

      June 8, 2012 at 07:46 | Report abuse |
  4. ATLApplePie

    Let our children live. Please visit the aborrtion sites and see how our babies are being terminated. We all made it here. Our higher purpose should be to give the unborn the same chance at life that we received. Ultimately these advanced technologies will be used not only to select and discard, but will ultimately be used to deny insurance for pre-existing conditions and/or lead to much higher insurance costs for children who are deemed to be genetically flawed in our infinite wisdom.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • clem

      Why, so then you can gripe at how all these mother's are on welfare and food stamps? You WANT and GRIPE, can't have it both ways. That is if you're a republican, ugh Ins co's do run the show but the GOP don't care, they LIKE IT

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

      Yeah – let's sotp progressing as a human race and go back to caves. Good idea.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • Chris B

      Yeah – let's stop progressing as a human race and go back to caves. Good idea.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      This can also be used to detect and fix problems when the fetus is still in the womb. Or is that against your religion also?

      June 7, 2012 at 23:20 | Report abuse |
    • bananaspy

      Miscarriages are far more common than abortions. How about putting some of the energy you use to whine about abortions on news forums to learning about preventing miscarriages and spreading the world on more useful forums, like those for teen mothers or pregnant women with drug addictions. Because you don't actually care about this crap you're crying about on a random forum, you just want the rest of us to hear you complain. If you actually care about dying babies, start somewhere you can actually be helpful.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:55 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Apple Pie, you say, Our higher purpose should be to give the unborn the same chance at life that we received.

      Nio way, not a chance. There are just too damn many people on the planet and if humanity doesn't curb its growth, nature will. Once the herd is thined, maybe we can hope for our young to have the "same chance".

      June 7, 2012 at 23:56 | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      As opposed to waiting for the disabled child to be born and killing it by leaving it in the woods for the beasts or smothering it like our ancestors did? Many did do that I hope you realize up until the 20th century. Sounds cruel & heartless I know. I'd rather have the option of an abortion thank you. Not that I'd leave a baby in the woods – I wouldn't. Personally I believe disabled children are soul teachers for us. But I still don't want the govt or anyone else telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • DragonAngel

      I really do not understand all your "Pro-Lifers". Can't you see all the suffering and sad children in the world who have no one to love and take care of them? Why add to that by forcing a woman to give birth to a child that she is neither ready for nor want? We currently live in a society that is quickly loosing it's empathy for their fellow mankind and adding more and more people like that to society will only produce a world of cold, emotionless drones. I feel that abortion is a very needed tool for women. Everyone makes mistakes in this world and there is no reason why a woman should have to pay the rest of her life because of said mistake. Men who help with making that mistake, eight out of ten of them usually run away leaving the woman to deal with it all on her own. That's the sad, cold truth of things. Why hold the woman soley responsible? Why bring another unwanted life into the world? The only good that does is add to the sociopath/psychopath society and there are plenty of them running around in this world.

      June 8, 2012 at 06:59 | Report abuse |
    • JenLaw

      @DragonAngel – No one "forces" any woman to get pregnant. Yeah, we have a uterus. I have been through the gamut with 4 children out of wedlock and never lived off the State. I have also conceived a child through a brutal rape, and had a child die at 21 years old. Believe me, there will be suffering no matter what. We can not eliminate suffering, it is life. It is good that you care, that's admirable. However, "selective elimination" of a "fetus" is a scapegoat for the errs of humanity. It's not a religious issue for many of us, it's a humanitarian issue.

      June 8, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
  5. dd

    And the real information from this research – a fetus is a unique individual! not the mother, not the father! Killing the fetus is not a operation on the mother; it is murder of an individual. Liberals don't care. Liberals get to kill anyone they can control. Liberals are like Islamic Terrorists – or worse!

    June 7, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      Take your meds.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      A fetus is a parasite living off the resources of it's host, frequently to the detriment of the host. The host most certainly has the right to decide whether or not to permit the parasite to continue to deplete the host's resources.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse |
    • omy

      republicans are the ones that want to control. they are the ones interfering with my relationship with my doctor. they are the ones stripping my freedoms in the name of "safety", they are the ones pumping the fear. republicans and their religious views are the ones controlling what my children wear to school dress coding them. republicans want to keep people stupid so they can continue to control them and you are one of them. please go back to fox and pump your brain full of lies.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
    • lex

      Seriously, get some therapy. Or get a brain.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:33 | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      Guest- dd's comment was not good, but its good to know that you consider yourself a "parasite", how about when you have children, I guess they'll be considered the same as well...hope you don't have children.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:51 | Report abuse |
    • rick

      dd: you are delusional

      June 8, 2012 at 07:34 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Question is if a "GAY Gene was discovered,
      a conservetive finds out his son or daughter is going be prone to being gay.
      do you abort it because it will be an abomination?

      June 8, 2012 at 08:29 | Report abuse |
    • WhatNow

      Actually, we've known that the fetus gets its' genes from both parents for a while now. That is nothing new. It still doesn't change the fact that it is a fetus and not a child. It is really time for people to stop assuming that they have some right to tell others when and how many children they should bring into this world. That is the ultimate intrusion into someones individual rights.

      June 8, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • JenLaw

      Don't really understand the hate here. Don't want kids? Don't have them! Yes, mistakes happen, they happen a lot, it's called "life" and "taking your chances when you are baufin'". Even a 16 year-old knows that, folks.

      June 8, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
  6. Captain Hindsight

    GATTACA is a great movie. Watch it and see the future of genetic selection.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Quick9

      Sure, Hollywood Luddism at its finest. Hollywood hates technology as much as some from the Christian right. Beware of the propaganda.

      December 29, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
  7. sharoom

    This article needs some clarification and the Nature Journal site provides a better explanation on this. The 98% is NOT how accurately they can sequence the entire genome of the fetus. What it refers to is their ability to predict whether or not the fetus has an inherited mutation from the parents. What it means is this: you sequence the entire genome of the parents (this can be done extremely accurately) and find one of the parents has a mutation in one of their genes. The question is whether or not the fetus now has this same mutation in its genome. Based on the genome they construct from this method, they can determine with 98% accuracy if the child has the mutation. What about de novo mutations (mutations that occurred spontaneously in the child)? The scientists report they were able to catch 39 out of 44 de novo mutations in the child, but they admit they also had some false positives. In other words, some of what they thought were de novo mutations were in fact normal when they double-checked.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • flip

      So whats it like to be able to explian something that 1000% of the population doesnt care about?
      You must be a hoot at parties.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:49 | Report abuse |
    • JT

      "1000%", eh? What's it like being the dumbest person in the room? I've often thought that it must be quite liberating. Would you consider doing an interview some day? I'd like to compile the collective thoughts of the modern village idiot.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:04 | Report abuse |
  8. sandy

    What babbel...so many opinions and so little knowledge. If any were right on, you'd have an unversal answer

    June 7, 2012 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris B

      I trust you, though. I can tell by your grammar that you are very smart.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
  9. disgustedvet

    Would anyone who is upset that their mother didn't choose to abort them please explain why ?

    June 7, 2012 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      Would anyone who is upset that their mother didn't choose to abort them please explain why . . . oh wait, they CAN'T because they, as a person, NEVER EXISTED! And, perhaps some of the many, many who attempt to or succeed at committing suicide wish their mother had aborted them . . .

      June 7, 2012 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
    • flip

      Think of it, no taxes, no keeping up with the Gonzalez', no being subjected to the NRA-Tea Baggers-I love Jesus but would kill you if you stepped one foot on my land, or made me feel threatened if I snuck up on you in the middle of the night while you were drinking ice tea, and eating skittles; or dealing with WHITE (brown, semi black, tea stained, semi-dark Hispanics; never having to press one for english then be put on hold for years; or have to constantly be tested from K-Post Grad, or have to be humiliated by the TSA, then the airlines; should I continue?

      June 7, 2012 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      isn't suicide a retroactive abortion ? and we all know no body ever kills themselves

      June 8, 2012 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
  10. Bernie

    This confirms even more the fact that a fetus is a human being (a person) and that Roe v. Wade was a colossal mistake that justice demands be overturned.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      are you serious? All zygotes contain DNA – half of it coming from one parent and half of it coming from another. This doesn't change any of the existing biology we knew was there. Whether that zygote is "alive" or not, of if the parents had a right to abort that embryo, has long since been addressed. Up until now, did you think a fertilized egg was pixie dust? It's all still DNA, and we've known that DNA was the heritable material since 1944; Avery, Mcleod, and McCartey.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:26 | Report abuse |
    • flip

      Hey Bernie, how about signing up for the first retro-abortion?

      June 7, 2012 at 23:39 | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      Jason: If you weren't so quick to demonstrate your smarts, you probably would have realized that I was suggesting that the information -that scientists may now be able to predict or diagnose for an individual fetus future diseases or disorders -should firm-up in people's minds that a fetus is a person (that is what 'human being' means -a person). Perhaps our most important commonly held principle is that we don't harm other persons. Let's not forget, also, that the Dred Scott Decision was meant to be settled opinion. Roe v. Wade can be overturned as well. It is a horrible fact that the Supreme Court has failed to correct its decision in Roe v. Wade. It originally ruled the way it did partially because it could not determine when human life began. But, not more than 10 years later it was proven that a fetus, from conception, is a human being (a person). The Court continues to fail to recognize that its question, as to when life begins, has been answered.

      June 8, 2012 at 01:52 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      But this research has done *nothing* to indicate when life begins. These results have literally changed nothing. If you wanted to sequence the embryo's DNA, you could take the same steps done here [not mentioned in the article, but it seems from the images they use in the video, that they're using an Illumina-based sequencing method] from a sample collected either via amnio or chorionic villi sampling. Are the cells alive, sure, but that's not what Roe V Wade is addressing. Personhood, and the rights of a fetus, are a separate question from the biology. Every woman who has miscarried (i.e. spontaneous abortion) has discarded living material from her womb – would you consider them for manslaughter for having accidentally killed those cells?

      June 8, 2012 at 08:09 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      A miscarriage has DNA also but it is not alive. your spit has DNA.

      June 8, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
    • what

      Being a human being and being a person are not the same thing all the time. Personhood requires conscious awareness and individuality. Neither of which a zygote has. It has the genetic information to become a full human, but then again so does your skin cells which are constantly dying and flaking off.

      June 8, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      Jason: I think we are talking past each other; we are not understanding each other.
      What: "Being a human being and being a person are not the same thing all the time". I totally disagree with you. A human being is ALWAYS a person. First, it is beyond dispute – objectively true- that a unique human being is present at the stage of a single-celled zygote and, also, that each zygote will become fully actualized in the vast majority of cases. If we say that persons are actualizable human beings, then a single-celled human zygote has to be considered a person. If we do not use actualizable in our definition then any human being not fully actualizable can be considered a non-person which, as you can see presents us with a very difficult problem. At which stage is a human being fully actualized? Biologically speaking, it is when full brain, bone, tissue and other biological developments has taken place -somewhere in the teens to one's early 20's (all depending on the individual). After somewhere around 22-23 all begin to lose full actualization. The problem of using "full actualization" to define personhood is its arbitrariness. It is based on subjective preference. What part of actualization suddenly makes a human being a person? 25%? 40% 65% 100%? And , it all varies from individual to individual.

      There is only one non-arbitrary criterion for 'person' -the presence of a human being, the presence of a full human genome in a human organism.

      Secondly, the definition of 'person' is "human being, individual"-always has been. There is no linguistic evidence to claim that a being of human origin is not a person. The Supreme Court introduced a distinction that does not exist, linguistically or in reality. It had to in order to justify the talking of a human life.

      June 8, 2012 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  11. Gary

    This is a Democratic paid study to mass produce liberal children all over the Red States who are genetically predispositioned to grow up super fast and vote straight Democrat and gay marriage.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      I am sure a right winger would find an exception to their beliefs when it comes to aborting a liberal.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • flip

      Better than reproducing dummies that listen to the likes of Mitt.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse |
    • chicago7

      Oh man, I hope so.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse |
  12. user88

    Let me say it and get it out of the way ... :It is all Obama's fault: ... Now we can continue to talk about Science.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tony


    June 7, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. skoobyfl

    A perfect society that live beyond 100 years, so much for retiring.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. mk

    let life be. let it be.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • what

      Yeah lets let that nasty flesh eating bacteria alone, its only just trying to be itself!

      June 8, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
  16. JB

    Yeah buddy, we can detect those defective unwanted human beings and then Adolf Obama and his liberal abortion squad can suck them little sucker right out of their. The liberal way, don't suffer short people to live.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Derrick

    My son was born with Di George syndrome, neither iInor my wife carry this. A genetic mosaic-ism they said. He is 26 months at 22 lbs, had 2 surgeries (open heart and G-tube insert ) does not speak, barely swallows, has hypocalcemia, para-thyroid, para-thymus, hearing defiency in his left ear, droopy eyes, extended ears, unparallel chin faces is all part of his condition. The Navy has no answer to give us as to why this has happened to our son. I wish this could have been prevented. I wish he didn't have to go through so much pain. He has more heart surgeries to go through down the road not to mention the 50/50 chance of passing it on to his offspring. This has brought great depression to us as a family , hearing about something like this brings hope that no family will have to go through this..

    June 7, 2012 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chicago7

      That's why scientific research and advancement are good. Godspeed to you and your son.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse |
    • K

      I was moved by your description of the terrible trauma your child has experienced. But I thought of one thing you left out: the love that your child has experienced by being born to loving and caring parents. In spite of the all the other things, there is no way to know what it feels like to be loved by a human family, until we are born and experience that first hand. There is no way that any of us know what it feels like to a baby and experience the love from their parents. Maybe that is a full and complete life, regardless of the physical state that baby finds itself in, what more could we wish for, what more do we need, than to be loved.......

      June 8, 2012 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      K has it exactly right. Love is stronger than death.

      June 8, 2012 at 02:08 | Report abuse |
    • what

      "Love is stronger than death"? What? No its not. Death will always win in the end.

      June 8, 2012 at 09:28 | Report abuse |
  18. KA

    As the mother of a beautiful 26 year old daughter whom we are watching die from cystic fibrosis, some of these comments are utterly offensive. I would have loved to have had a second child who was healthy but such was not to be. To all of those who say that this kind of technology is sinful or worse, walk a mile in my shoes before you make those kinds of statements please. To lose a child from an accident is a tragedy – to lose one from a genetic illness is unforgiveable and unspeakably cruel.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. bobby

    Great I hope they find the defective Gay Genes early on and give the parents the option to abortion as late as 8 months

    June 7, 2012 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. flip

    OMG, now the RC church has another cause, after failing to cow their nuns.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. jezabel

    somewhere soon mother nature will prove us ignorant humans wrong-again!
    she will throw a wrench into this and we will pay dearly for it

    June 7, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Terry

    For those of you who are giddy with excitement about the possibility of "Chinese menu" babies...think, is it possible there is something imperfect about you that if your parents knew, they'd selectively terminate you? We like control...nothing is scarier than a priori controlling life. God will not be mocked.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jezabel

      mother nature will prove us mere mortals fools and soon

      June 7, 2012 at 23:42 | Report abuse |
    • repForEver

      Yes. I was born female. My parents wanted a boy. I was beaten, abused, I never experienced any affection from my parents throughout my life. I was sexually abused by my older brother, under the approving eye of my parents (especially my father).
      Yes, I wish they could have aborted me. I don't think I will ever be able to heal emotionally. I would never ever abort a child, but I strongly believe that parents like my own should not only have the option to do so, but also be encouraged to do so. I don't have the courage to talk to men. I could never have a relationship. I have nightmares every night of my life. And I feel too weak to kill myself.

      June 8, 2012 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
    • what

      Oh please Terry, we ARE God.

      And repforever, you should probably see a professional therapist.

      June 8, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
  23. James

    The cost of the process could easily be justified by the savings in health care. Imaging if a society no longer has to deal with the costs associated with managing these genetic diseases. Right now society is in a transition stage. Previously, people with genetic disease wouldn't survive so only the strong and health were likely to flourish. We're now in a stage where people with all sorts of genetic diseases can survive and pass on those diseases to their children. From a practical point of view does it make sense to have an entire portion of society that requires such extreme efforts to maintain? Perhaps it's best to restore the balance by making sure these genetic diseases aren't propagated anymore. At the same time we need to define limits on what would be undesirable and only focus on genetic diseases rather than trying to make custom children.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RBSG

    This can't be allowed to continue. Baby Jesus won't like it.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Tim Tripod

    As a person who has a hearing loss and a degenerative eye disease, now raising two beautiful children who have neither of these conditions, I am thankful to be alive, yet immensely sad for the countless children who will likely lose their lives because of technology like this. I've enjoyed life very much, and it grieves me greatly that someone like me could be simply discarded without the joy of life that I've had. Apparently rather than working to find solutions to diseases, it's easier to just kill everyone with the diseases. Hitler would be tickled by all this, I'm sure.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      Wouldn't you rather not have hearing loss and a degenerative eye disease? Don't you think your life would be a little better. Sure you made it through and are enjoying life, but this is about eliminating genetic diseases that are far worse. You ask that babies with diseases such as yours are not aborted, but in reality would it not be better if we had babies that did not have these diseases?

      June 8, 2012 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Tim Tripod

      Actually, clinical trials (in the human stages now) are underway that are successfully stopping degeneration and restoring vision to normal, in the particular genetic condition that I have. There have also been significant strides (that is, apart from hearing aids) in treating hearing loss. That's what I want, David... solutions to problems that don't require the robbing of lives.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      How do you make sense of this? If an embryo is aborted or dies otherwise, the potential person who could have enjoyed life (or not) simply does not know it's missing anything because it does not exist. You're projecting your own experience as an embodied alive adult to a possibly to be aborted embryo. It isn't being deprived of anything. We are all born with millions of potential children eggs/sperm that never come to be alive. This is how biology works. A very large number of conceptions don't implant, those that do, about a quarter to a third are miscarriages. Not every conception is a life to be worried after.

      June 8, 2012 at 01:30 | Report abuse |
    • Tim Tripod

      So in your opinion the value of life is found in self-awareness? Based on that logic, there shoudn't be any trouble with babies being aborted even for a while after birth. At what point does it stop being okay to kill the baby? (I generally prefer to avoid terms like embryo & fetus which have far too often been used to dehumanize). To abort something is to stop a process from continuing, so your "it isn't being deprived of anything" claim is simply not based in reality. And your suggestion that because many conceptions fail naturally it's okay for people to intentionally kill them is like saying that because floods kill people naturally it would be okay for me to drown someone. If you follow your claims through to their logical conclusions, you will find that you're ultimately not making sense, yourself.

      June 8, 2012 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
  26. Tony

    Liberals are Pro-Choice accept when it comes to the size soda you can drink.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DragonAngel

      Too Funny! I really enjoyed reading that comment! LOL!

      June 8, 2012 at 07:07 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Except Michael Bloomberg is not a democrat

      June 8, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
  27. Tony

    An atheist Conservative doesn't go to churhc. An atheist liberal wants to make sure no one goes to church.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gary

      An Atheist would be more intellectually honest with himself if he claimed to be Agnostic.

      June 7, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
    • David

      In actuality: An athiest conservative is an oxymoron that does not exist. An atheist liberal wants people to realize church in unnecessary. This is about educating people and moving society forward to the point where religion is seen as the crock it is and discarded. Not about introducing laws banning people from attending church. Not all atheists are the same and I am sure some may even fit that description, but the underlying goals are the same.

      June 8, 2012 at 00:09 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Funny, I've never had an athiest Liberal come to my door with his booklets trying to convince me there is no GOD.
      Sounds like it is the religous that "push" their agemda on everyone not the Athiest

      June 8, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse |
  28. Rob

    Liberals are Pro-Choice except when it comes to someone else making the choices.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • what

      Well yeah... people should make their own decisions.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
  29. CH

    "Everyone has two copies of the human genome: One inherited from their biological mother and one from the biological father."

    Isn't this discriminatory? I thought Heather had two mommies—and no daddy? I'm confused. CNN, please change the scientific facts to fit my preferences and worldview.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Norm

    When abortion has been outlawed by Christian Sharia Law, the rich will fly their daughters to private islands to have a "rehab", while an abortion is performed on a deformed egg.

    Meanwhile everyone else, meaning YOU reading this, will be left to care for severely disabled children, with no health insurance or time off from work.

    Because that would be socialism.

    June 7, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Rob

    This is great, as long as they include all diseases, including h-mos and liberalism.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. name: (required)

    from a scientific point of view, I'm sorry to say this article does a poor job explaining how this is done. I can't imagine it's any clearer to a lay person.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. pbernasc

    By the time the next Venus crossing of the Sun occurs, we will all be smart and beautiful ... no more rednecks and racists, not more Republican voters, it's a dream come true, finally humanity will have left behind for good all primitive chimp behaviors still visible among some not not very bright humans .. as mentioned TEA PARTY members and Republicans. racists etc
    Technology will save us from bigots THANK YOU GOD

    June 8, 2012 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Truth

    The left will promise you everything from the cradle to the grave, the tricky part is surviving to make it to the cradle.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      No, we dont promise you support from birth to death, we just feel it is a better use of our money to take care of our own people rather make bombs to kill middle easterners for their oil

      June 8, 2012 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
  35. LePhantom

    We'll eventually get over this ethical stuff and move forward. Most of those who object to everything believe that God created us in his own image. Unless they believe that their God is ignorant and runs around naked in a jungle garden; then, they must accept the fact that we are evolving in all respects of intelligence. Certainly we have not achieved the image of any god at this point. But, we're getting there. God is patient.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rim

    Religious people are funny. Misinformed, naive, and lack the gene for common sense. But they're more funny than anything.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Bayousara

    I don't think it is wrong to abort a fetus that is doomed to a horrible life due to incurable disease, deformities, and other health-related issues. I have seen these babies and children and some of them don't even have faces. Aborting for sex, hair color, height, etc is selfish on the parents' part and they probably shouldn't have kids. I adopted my children, so I never had to face the abortion issue.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bernie

      But where would you draw the line?

      June 8, 2012 at 02:03 | Report abuse |

    Progress is good. The more we know sooner the better actions can be taken to prevent conditions. The other 2 women had no idea what they are talking about.Risk is every where the moment you get in the car you are at risk, but that dont stop people from driving...

    June 8, 2012 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. john the electrician

    Can't stop progress no matter how much you hate it.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. healthnut

    This is a silly article. One can just take a sample right from the fetus and get the full genome. The novelty is that with the new procedure it is safer to do so than before. Therefore no new ethical consequences arise.

    June 8, 2012 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. D

    Yes as mentioned above, the ethical issues are not new here. The ability to genetically test the fetus less invasively is great and afaik this is already ready for clinical practice for testing for Down's syndrome etc. Fully sequencing every fetus is not something that will ever be routine (anytime soon). This particular development doesn't seem to open up more ethical issues than IVF with PGD except which already is commonplace. Getting pregnant and aborting all the non-perfect fetuses with this method is a ridiculously inefficient way to a Gattaca society. One can instead make 20-30 embryos in vitro and only implant the selected ones. This is already happening today with gender selection and the associated Gattaca ethical issues are around the corner.

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

    So does this mean if we can figure out the gay gene that it can be eliminated permanently?

    June 8, 2012 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. J

    The political and religious issues discussed in the comments are very entertaining.

    June 8, 2012 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. ma & pa

    disgustedvet at 23:09 really put it in perspective."Would anyone who is upset that their mother didn't abort them please explain why?" One reason for Roe v. Wade was an attempt to help attacked girls not be stigmatized by bigoted society and be reminded for nine months of the brutality committed against them. A better world would value and nurture all babies and be kind to mothers. Persons with unlimited funds get the 'benefits' of advanced science, approved or not. All science is a tool that should be used to help us, not subjugate some of us for the benefit of others, before we know about it and without a vote being cast. God gave us free will. We should use it to stay free. Our climate is changing again, as science has shown has happened countless times over the eons. If we don't use our knowledge to peacefully sustain ourselves through these changes, maybe mother nature will shove us back toward the cave where natural selection will determine who survives.

    June 8, 2012 at 01:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. ma & pa

    repForEver at 01:53a.m. your experiences are somewhat like those of one of us. You have our sympathy, as do all others similarly used. Many victims have been used worse by their attackers if they show the normal response of anger against the attacker. You have the right to be angry about what was done to you. Please take strength from it to find a support group of fellow survivors if you can. "The walking wounded of our invisible war are everywhere". Your ife can get better.

    June 8, 2012 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. ma & pa

    Body as temporary home of fragile, enduring, life force or spirit is a concept we haven't seen mentioned, maybe because people get distracted onto religious arguments when spirit is mentioned. Maybe that little life deserves a reasonably sound body that sciences can ethically help provide. Repair genetic malformations so babies are not aborted because of them. Nevermind gender, tall, short, hair or eye color, fix the serious problems, if possible.

    June 8, 2012 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. shawn

    If a women wants to abort, then just let her be. It doesnt matter how much some one wants to stop it the girl will decide what is best for her not everybody else.

    June 8, 2012 at 04:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. planetx

    These dumb mtherfckers think they got it all figured out LOL! just another way for these mutants to milk your tax dollars

    June 8, 2012 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. V

    Humans are no longer evolving by means of natural selection except in cases of extreme disability. Survival of the fittest simply doesn't apply to most members of the human race. We must look to science to guide us forward, evolutionarily speaking, as we as a race are no longer evolving according to the laws of nature. We'd be fools to think there would be no eventual consequences for achieving such a feat.

    June 8, 2012 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. oldbones24

    A whole lot of scary to me. At best a good science fiction story, at worst a living horror story. The NEW Human.

    June 8, 2012 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
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