Babies a la Carte

Babies a la Carte Source

Babies a la Carte

Most of us have heard of the so-called “three parent baby,” a child with the DNA of three different persons. More

Another approach to a three parent baby is the use of one man’s sperm, one woman’s egg, and a second woman’s uterus. This approach uses in vitro fertilisation and embryo implantation. Infertile couples sometimes use this approach to baby-making, but an increasing number of single men and single women are taking advantage of overseas companies that provide this service.

Here is an example of one single man who traveled to India to make his baby, a la carte:

Morrison’s journey to fatherhood began in November 2009, when he travelled to Mumbai to donate sperm and, with the help of a photo, brief bio and medical and family history, choose an Indian egg donor and a surrogate.

The first few attempts at in vitro fertilization failed. Then one pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

Morrison had second thoughts.

In 2010, he went to India again. He donated more sperm, chose a new surrogate and a new egg donor — a pretty, calm-faced woman with features he hoped would be a good match with his own.

On the sixth attempt at in vitro, the surrogate became pregnant.

And now there is Orion… “I’ve been waiting for this for three years,” Morrison says, cradling the baby in his arms. “I feel like I’ve known him forever.” He looks down and grins at his son.

Morrison’s parents, Lorna and Paul, travelled with him to Mumbai to help care for Orion in the early days while Morrison files the paperwork needed to bring the baby home, a process that can take three weeks.

“The first few days were rough,” Morrison admits, with Orion waking every few hours and Morrison so excited he couldn’t sleep or eat at all. But the baby is eating well — formula, from a bottle — and sleeping four to six hours at a time.

“For only 9 days old, he’s got so much character and strength, too. He gives me head butts,” Morrison laughs.

… At Yashoda Infertility & Healthcare Services in Mumbai, where Orion was born, Dr. Meenakshi Puranik has served three single women, more than 100 single men and about 2,100 couples since opening seven years ago — so single men account for about 4 per cent of Puranik’s clientele and single women make up just 0.1 per cent.

__Star via _ Elusive Wapiti

Science is approaching the day where human eggs can be prepared in the lab from the genetic and cellular material of one or more women, inseminated in vitro, and the resulting embryo implanted into an artificial womb — where it would grow to term in an “optimal and realistic” environment. How could we build an artificial womb?

We’re still several decades away, but the two primary areas that need to be developed include biotechnology (for things like personalized genomics and tissue engineering) and nanotechnology (to facilitate micro-scale interactions and growth through artificial means). Smart computer systems and monitoring devices should also be developed to track the progress of the fetus’s growth, while automatically adjusting for changing conditions.

… unlike a mother, an artificial womb is not susceptible to disease or malnourishment, nor will it be prone to drinking or smoking. And with the assistance of powerful computers, advanced biotech, and even microscopic machines, the gestational process will be further optimized. _io9

George Dvorsky, the author of the above piece, describes the essential components of artificial wombs — the artificial endometrium and the artificial placenta — and links to stories about actual ongoing projects meant to eventually develop artificial wombs.

In the brave new world of multiple genetic parents and artificial wombs, traditional concepts of parenthood itself are likely to be transformed beyond recognition. Certainly the degrees of freedom in creating an a la carte baby are likely to increase significantly, before this revolution reaches an equilibrium.

Modern, educated, high-IQ men and women who want “optimal” children, without the mussy fussiness of marriage or committed relationships, are beginning to demand new approaches to parenthood. Buckle up.

New York Academy of Sciences Annals: The Artificial Womb PDF

More: Once an a la carte designer baby is born and begins integrating into society, he must be trained to navigate the treacherous rapids of institutional indoctrination — if he wants to become fully human. If a parents are not careful, their significant investment in an optimised child can go to rot, if they allow the child to become just another institutionally lobotomised drone.

It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood. But for best results, the younger the better.

Update: Commenter Stephen provides a link to a story describing technologies for growing both sperm and eggs in the laboratory. The American team used embryonic stem cells to generate “artificial” sperm and eggs of mice.

Here is a more recent BBC article describing a Japanese lab’s development of sperm and eggs from skin cells. Baby mice have been created using those techniques.

As these technologies proceed to human application, the possibilities for custom-DNA lab-generated sperm and eggs expand significantly. Babies a la carte, indeed.

Bonus: Original Al Fin blog archive of postings on Artificial Wombs

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7 Responses to Babies a la Carte

  1. Stephen says:
    I suspect that with the technology discussed in the above article that before long we will see children who have a biological father who is a woman or a biological mother who is a man as homosexual couples begin to create children of their own.

    This Alfin article is very thought provoking. I am thinking that this technology is going to lead this century to a biological singularity as designer children with extraordinary IQs, constitutions, strength, and physical beauty will be created. When such children grow they will associate and establish a virtuous circle of creativity as the increased numbers of geniuses work together and vastly enhance our technological capabilities.

    What I mean is that in previous eras (say the Ancient World) there may have been a genius in a locality but his peers oftentimes did not understand him and neither did his society. Such a man’s work was oftentimes a lonely task. The market’s side effect of eugenically creating smart useful people in recent centuries (by paying the intelligent for their services over the dull and allowing the intelligent to successfully breed) has increased to intelligent but I think that designer babies will be a real boon. Geniuses will have audiences who quickly grasp the nature and implications of their work and will have many like minds to give them inspiration and co-workers to pool their labor. I think this is very promising.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Thanks for the comment and link.

      Designer baby technology will be very expensive, once it is perfected and offered to the public. Artificial womb technology will also be very expensive. But once the problems with these technologies are surmounted, they will be made available somewhere on the planet, to the very wealthy.

      Many people will think of “Gattaca” or “Brave New World.” But it will take time for the technology to become commonly available to the middle classes, and it is not unlikely that laws will be passed banning such technologies in many or most nations.

      This brave new world of fertility may have the makings of an important future white lab coat collar crime. Start building and equipping your underground labs now, before the authorities are on to this new trend.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Artificial womb and especially de novo design of children will be rather expensive. However, the manufacture of the gametes (sperm and ova) directly from stem cells, no male or female requird, should become relatively cheap in the near future. This, combined with IVF, will become a fairly attractive option for many people, especially those with fertility “issues”. Natural conception will no longer be necessary (or even desirable) for human reproduction and the propagation of the species. The link between sex and reproduction can finally be severed once and for all.

  2. bob sykes says:

    The costs of this guarantee that it will always be something for the rich. Unlike manufacturing, medicine has few economies of scale, and the costs of medical procedures are sticky.

    This is best thought of as the dying gasp of a thoroughly decadent, corrupt civilization.

  3. Matt Musson says:

    I think I would happily make a baby with either of those two women.

  4. The article is interesting, but what could be done for speeding the development of artificial uterus?

    Because without working artificial uterus we are stuck with costly and limited natural uterus.

    Would be there any foundation, group, whatever, willing to manage a prize for a developed and working artificial uterus delivering an healthy baby (or just an healthy newborn of some large mammal / primate)?

  5. Given the artificial uterus is a general purpose technology (not useful just for humans but also in animal breeding of all sorts), there could be support from associations and groups like meat producers, horse racing breeders, dog breeders, etc.

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