IVF clinics may soon use a controversial screening technique to get rid of embryos which are likely to grow up with low IQs. A company in the US offering tests which can pick out ‘mental disabilities’ – and, in theory, predict intelligence – has confirmed it is in talks with fertility clinics.
The news has stoked fears about a rise in designer babies, which could be created by parents wanting to erase undesirable traits from their children. Experts say it is ‘repugnant’ to think about terminating embryos because they are expected to have lower than average intelligence.
Genomic Prediction, based in New Jersey, can now offer tests to calculate the risk of complex conditions like heart disease.
While the company says it will only test embryos to find those at a high risk of serious medical conditions – like breast cancer, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease – it expects people to one day want IQ predictions.
‘I think people are going to demand that,’ said Genomic Prediction’s co-founder, Stephen Hsu. ‘If we don’t do it, some other company will.’
Genomic Prediction’s new test raises huge ethical dilemmas and concerns about ‘playing God’, which have been simmering for years.