Selecting the sex of the baby, or at least significantly increasing the chances that it will be a boy or a girl based on the wishes of the parents, is a controversial idea. It is precisely this that allows a new technique that has been tested by a group of researchers and that is published today in the magazine Plos One. This solution goes through select spermsomething that has already been tested and carried out before, but the new procedure, says the work, is “more ethical, more precise and safe” because it does not affect the genetic load of the resulting embryo.
Yes ok In Spain it is forbidden to select the sex of the babyExcept for a few medical reasons such as the prevention of diseases linked to the sexual chromosomes, in other countries, such as the United States, this practice is allowed. This is where this research comes from, which ensures that “couples who undergo fertility treatments soon 80% will be able to choose the sex of their baby of chances of success.
To check the effectiveness of this method, more than 1,300 couples underwent it. Broadly speaking, this consists of classifying the spermatozoa using a multilayer density gradient. This allows particles of different sizes to be separated based on weight. The secret? Sperm containing an X chromosome (female) are slightly heavier than those containing a Y chromosome (male).
“It’s a very simple concept; the lighter spermatozoa rise to the top while the heavier ones go to the bottom“, explains Dr. Gianpiero Palermo, author of the study, and professor of embryology in obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.
Next, the researchers they select the sperm based on what the parents want and inject it into the center of the ovule. This procedure is already known and is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In the study group, “the sperm moved well, and the selection technique did not harm the sperm in any way,” Palermo says. “The children’s health is fine so far, and that’s reassuring.“. No developmental delays were observed at 3 years of age.
Is it ethical to choose the sex of the baby?
Dr. Palermo affirms that this service is already offered to all the couples he treats in his practice, as part of a research protocol. And he points out that, in the future, this procedure could also help couples who do not need fertility treatments. In addition, he notes that “there are many legitimate and uncontroversial reasons why a family might consider sex selection, such as avoiding a hereditary disease associated with a particular sex. For example, hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder that primarily affects males.” males”.
In Spain, Law 14/2006, on assisted human reproduction techniques, considers a very serious offense “sex selection or genetic manipulation for non-therapeutic or unauthorized therapeutic purposes”, with fines from 10,001 euros to one million. It is the National Commission for Assisted Human Reproduction (CNRHA), a body dependent on the Ministry of Health, who must authorize the exceptions in which these techniques can be approved, taking into account their ethical and legal nature.
Most couples wanted a girl
Most of the couples in the study had no preferences regarding the sex of their child. But among the 105 couples, 59 wanted a girl and 46 a boy. Of the couples who wanted female offspring, 79% of the embryos analyzed were female. Of the couples who wanted a boy, almost 80% of their embryos were male.