‘It raises all kind of questions about eugenics’: Startup offering to screen embryos to help parents pick best babies

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Anxious couples are approaching fertility doctors in the US with requests for a hotly debated new genetic test being called “23andMe, but on embryos.”

The baby-picking test is being offered by a New Jersey startup company, Genomic Prediction.

The company says it can use DNA measurements to predict which embryos from an IVF procedure are least likely to end up with any of 11 different common diseases. In the next few weeks it’s set to release case studies on its first clients.

Handed report cards on a batch of frozen embryos, parents can use the test results to try to choose the healthiest ones. The grades include risk estimates for diabetes, heart attacks, and five types of cancer.

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According to flyers distributed by the company, it will also warn clients about any embryo predicted to become a person who is among the shortest 2% of the population, or who is in the lowest 2% in intelligence.

One such couple recently turned up at New York University’s fertility center in Manhattan, says David Keefe, who is chairman of obstetrics and gynecology there. “Right off the bat it raises all kind of questions about eugenics,” he says.

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