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New “Digital baby” screen available for those using sperm donors

A new service will be available by the end of the year that weaves together the DNA of prospective parents to screen for potential genetic diseases. This will initially be focused on donor sperm, which will stimulate how a particular donor’s genetic sequence will combine with the genetic sequence of a female patient in a “hypothetical child genome.” In this manner, those sperm donors who would contribute to child genomes with higher risks for genetic illness or disease can be screened out.

Although this process is only a simulation and occurs digitally, it is already raising ethical questions and concerns by the larger fertility community who fear this may be another step towards creating “designer babies.” However, those who are pioneering the technology argue that this technology has the practical utility of offering prospective parents an opportunity to reduce the genetic risk of particular diseases being passed on to their children.

This technology is not yet readily available, but could well be in the future.

Learn more about the “digital baby” screen here.

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