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Ethics – Three-parent baby

November 2016

The world’s first three-parent baby was born to Jordanian parents in Mexico. The baby boy was born five months ago. His mother, whose name remains anonymous, carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that affects the developing nervous system. Her first two children died from the disease.

The technique used has caused much controversy, raising concerns about parenthood, shared DNA and child safety. It mixes DNA from a donor egg with that of the mother and father.

Despite strong criticism, the technique — created to help women carrying disease in their mitochondrial DNA — was legally approved in the UK in 2015. Following the decision, Christian Concern’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, said the UK had crossed a ‘huge ethical and safety line’.

One of the chief concerns is that the consequences of altering genetic material are unknown and will be passed to future generations. There could also be questions over the long-term health of a child born under such a treatment.