The first child created using three-parent DNA has been born in the United Kingdom.
Three-parent DNA, also known as mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT) or mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), is used during in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The process involved the nucleus of a donor’s egg being hollowed out, while keeping the healthy mitochondria in the egg’s shell. Then, the nucleus of the mother’s egg, which contains the majority of the DNA, is inserted, with the defective or risky parts of a mother’s egg supplemented with a donor egg. The egg is then fertilized using the father’s sperm, and then an embryo is chosen and implanted into the mother’s uterus through a now-typical IVF procedure. A small portion of the donor egg keeps DNA from the donor, leading to the colloquial term of “three-parent DNA.”
Every time this happens, embryos — the very beginning stage of a living human being — are destroyed.
The first ever baby born through MDT/MRT was in 2016, in Mexico.
It has been claimed that this treatment will prevent an array of diseases and defects, and mitochondrial disease in particular, but that has not yet been proven.
Despite the experimental nature of this technology, clinics elsewhere in Europe permitted MDT in 2019. Now, the first British baby has been born after being conceived through the DNA of three parents. The exact details are still unknown, but the Guardian reported that a clinic in Newcastle — the only one in the United Kingdom licensed to perform MDT — has seen “a small number of babies” born, with the number being less than five. Each case has to be approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA); so far, 30 approvals have been given.
When Parliament approved MDT/MRT, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales condemned the destruction of life it would inevitably cause. “There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process,” they said in a statement. “The human embryo is a new human life, and it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception.”
Though this is not the first child to be born from three-parent DNA, the procedure remains largely experimental, with long-term effects on the child remaining unknown.
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