Baby Born in UK Screened To Be Cancer-Free

Scientists implanted in womb only cells without genes that could lead to disease
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2009 1:10 PM CST
The first baby in the UK tested before conception for a genetic form of breast cancer has been born. Doctors said the girl and her mother were doing well following the birth this week.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – The UK’s first “cancer-free” baby was born yesterday, but not without a shower of criticism for the parents and doctors, the BBC reports. Doctors screened the embryo for the altered BRCA1 gene, whose carriers have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer. “The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter,” said a fertility expert.

But the anonymous parents haven’t been spared the backlash from critics who oppose the procedure, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. “It is basically a search-and-kill mechanism,” said one activist. “Underlying all this is eugenics.” Doctors worldwide use PGD, which costs about $11,800, to root out genes that are certain to cause illness, but BRCA1 isn’t certain to cause cancer.