UK says yes to three-parent IVF babies. The science behind it is pretty wild


I’m not coming at this from a religious, Eugenics or Luddite anti-GMO side, but I just don’t understand the medical ethics behind this (ditto on the womb transplants). This looks like such a 1st world problem to me that I don’t even know where to start.

Maybe there is a shortage of (unwanted) children in the UK and they’ve solved most of other medical problems? Why would a society expend so many medical resources on artificial propagation?

If it works, just to provide some healthy mitochondria, I think it’s great. No one can anticipate all the possible outcomes, and I don’t know how rigorously this procedure has been tested, but scientifically this seems pretty basic.


If it looks like it works good enough, it’s ready for public beta. If it has some obscure problems that weren’t caught during the testing stage, they will be caught and addressed in runtime.

If it is possible to do, why not try it? Double so if there’s demand.

Even 1st world problems deserve their solutions, don’t they?

Demand, supply. Lots of psychological factors there when it comes to offsprings. Who are we to judge?


Sounds good to me. I think the implied ethical hand-wringing is mostly bogus, merely a consequence of people trying to wrap their head around an idea and looking for problems which aren’t there.


Because of the biological/evolutionary imperative to pass on one’s DNA?


Not me, I’m in it strictly for the kicks.


That, and don’t forget the heavy-handed socialization in many cultures to be “normal” and have children.

Adoptees and donor offspring – and the psychologists and sociologists who have studied them – have documented the significant problems that develop from artificially creating a family unit for over 50 years now but people who are desperate to have children don’t want to hear it. They’ll do anything to have a baby that has at least some of their DNA in it. In most cases they don’t tell the children because they CAN get away with that, but at some point the truth comes out and the offspring is hurt and angry at being told lies their entire life. It usually breaks apart the family, and if they stay together it’s under very uneasy terms.

Prospective parents in these situations aren’t thinking about how their children’s entire lives will be affected. They’re thinking BABY BABY BABY.


As a parent of two IVF kids I admit I’m not entirely unbiased here, but did you just diss my family? Because that’s not cool.


To be fair, there can be strong restrictions on adoptions, and there is serious competition to get babies instead of older kids… don’t know if “competition” is the correct word here, but I can’t think of an alternative. Upper middle class, straight white married couples tend to have a leg up on everyone else in adopting babies, I think, regardless of the babies race [edited to add] because there is the perception that they are the best suited to raising children “correctly”. That’s not even getting at the weird issues of overseas adoption. And of course, some states actively ban same sex couples from any kind of adoption (though I think that is reversing as a trend). So, I think it’s a bit more complicated than the biological imperative to breed coupled with cultural norms of the nuclear family.


We’re talking here about using a third person to create a child who will grow up in a two-parent household, in most cases (unless their individual story gets media attention) not knowing about their third parent or the circumstances of their existence.

Spend some time reading what donor offspring who are old enough to have children (or even grandchildren) have to say on the subject. The stories are remarkably consistent: it’s not that they don’t love the parents who raised them, but they had to face the ugly truth that their family lied to them for their entire lives and they’re not really who they thought they were.

It seems to me that the problem there is that children were lied to, not that they were conceived in an untraditional way.

(FWIW we didn’t need anyone else’s DNA for my little ones but I don’t think our family would be fundamentally different if we had.)


That’s the point: the truth is, your family would be fundamentally different, because the foundation of your child(ren)'s existence would be different. They are not blank slates. They would have physical and personality traits that you would not naturally recognize and therefore might not support as well as you would for traits you did recognize because you could see them in your own extended family or your spouse’s. And if, on top of that, the children didn’t know why it was they didn’t entirely fit in, they would blame themselves (this is well documented).

I have three people in my closest social circle who all developed late-stage cancer before it was discovered (fortunately, all seem to have successfully treated) because they kept answering “no” whenever medical personnel asked if cancer ran in their family. In each case, it was the unknown third parent who was the source of the cancer gene.

That’s just one easily-understandable example of how children with different DNA than yours will be different as a result.

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I agree. I think being honest with your children seems fundamental in treating them like human beings, not property. Obviously, you need to couch it in age appropriate terms, but I don’t think that’s too terrible tough, whether you’re talking about making babies the old fashioned way or with the aid of this sort of technology.


Again, I think that’s an argument for “honesty in parenting” rather than an argument against adoption / IVF via donor DNA.


Its a 2.002 person baby.

I would have thought boing biong would avoid sensation on sciencey stuff


I wasn’t arguing against adoption or donor conception. I was arguing against the idea that it’s no big deal to the person it’s done to. The fact that no one seems to understand that distinction is indicative of the problem.

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That sounds like those cases when DNA tests show that the husband is not the father. Happens in staggeringly high percentage of cases, and sometimes it even becomes an issue for child support payments (but that’s an entirely different can of worms).

…so “three-parent babies” are quite a norm already, in a way…

Citation needed - this is a pretty strong claim.


Adopting isn’t a good choice for everyone who wants to be a parent. Choose any random stranger on the bus - could you love them like family, as either their parent OR their child?