Monday, June 26, 2006

Govt Says No To Designer Babies

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 (Bernama) -- The creation of "designer babies" will not be allowed in this country except for medical reasons, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Monday.
As such, he said, the ministry was drafting a new act which included guidelines on the matter and was expected to be announced by the year-end.
"According to the guidelines being drafted, sex selection for social reasons is not permitted.
"Sex selection is, however, allowed if a particular sex predisposes a serious genetic condition like haemophilia and Down's Syndrome," he told reporters at the Parliament's lobby.
It was recently reported that Malaysia's first designer baby was born in December 2004 using the Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) method at the Damansara Women's Specialist Centre.
The centre started offering this service two years ago and was the first to so in the country.
PGD, which enables the diagnosis of more than 200 genetic diseases and the determination of the embryonal sex, is not available in government or university hospitals.
Dr Chua said there were about 30 private fertility centres in the country.
To a question, he said the PGD method, if not controlled, would cause a negative effect in the long run where the number of males would greatly outnumber the females.
The accepted ratio between male and female in Malaysia is 105:100 and Dr Chua is worried that this may increase to 120:100 if parents are allowed to choose their babies' gender as has happened in China.
"We are not against infertile couples seeking medical treatment to have babies but they should not choose the sex," he added.
Although the guidelines and new act had yet to take effect, he said, medical practitioners should stop any efforts to create designer babies.
Asked whether today's announcement would cause a rush to create designer babies to beat the deadline, he said: "We have ways to handle it".

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