Designer babies - what would you do for a 'healthy' baby?

September 05, 2006

The well-educated are significantly more open to the idea of "designing" babies than the poorly educated, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of East Anglia.

The findings will be presented by Dr. Simon Hampton at the BA Festival of Science on Setpember 5.

Dr. Hampton and his team at UEA's School of Social Work and Psychosocial Studies examined what different groups of people in the UK would "design into" their children given the opportunity.

The evidence suggests that there are gender, age and socio-economic class differences in what is deemed desirable and that many prospective parents would be prepared to manipulate their babies in ways that are at odds with moral orthodoxy.

"People assume that the very notion of designer babies stems from the desire of prospective parents for their children to be healthy," said Dr. Hampton.

"However, the picture is complicated by the shifting meaning of 'healthy' and confusion about when the manipulation of children's physical, psychological or social characteristics is legitimate, natural or ethical."

We are often presented with information and speculation about what reproductive technologies might achieve in the future and with various ethical dilemmas. This new research is among the first to investigate the thoughts and feelings of ordinary prospective parents.

The results of a series of surveys of 100-200 participants included: Reproductive technologies and designer babies will be held in ARTS 01.02 at UEA on Tuesday September 5 from 4-6pm.
-end-
The BA Festival of Science is hosted by the University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park and Norwich City Council and will take place from September 2-9 in venues across UEA, NRP and the city of Norwich. For further information about the hundreds of events taking place during the Festival visit www.the-ba.net/festivalofscience. Tickets can be booked online, by calling 020 7019 4963, or in person at the Tourist Information Centre based in the Forum, Norwich. The BA Festival of Science is supported by the East of England Development Agency.

Notes to Editors:

1. For further information or to arrange pictures or interviews, please contact Simon Dunford at the UEA press Office on 01603 592203/s.dunford@uea.ac.uk.

University of East Anglia

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