Genetically modified babies may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but recent innovations in both gene editing and artificial fertilization technology mean that this idea could become a reality. Scientists focus on gene editing to eliminate certain debilitating hereditary diseases, but the technology could accomplish a lot more. Recently, the team at Superdrug surveyed the public on what they would modify in their future children if they could, and the results are surprising.

According to the survey, carried out by Superdrug Online Doctor, prospective parents who viewed baby modification as ethical explained that they would most likely alter their child to make them healthier and more intelligent, followed by increased creativity and attractiveness.

When it came to specific physical characteristics, Europeans answered that they would genetically modify their child to be a blonde-haired blued-eyed girl of average height. Americans, on the other hand, identified their ideal child as a black-haired blued-eyed male of above average height. In addition, Americans were far more concerned with adjusting the athletic ability of their children than Europeans, which may explain why more Americans would prefer to have a male child while Europeans would be happier with a female.

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Overall, when given absolute free range to “design” any type of child, most volunteers opted for the same three traits: intelligence, health, and creativity.

The survey included answers from 1,000 individuals; 500 from Europe and 500 from the United States. These individuals were picked for their general interest in becoming parents at some point, and were asked what type of genetic modifications they would make to their children if they could, and whether or not they’d be willing to pay for these modifications.

Many parents would be willing to pay up, the SuperDrug survey revealed. Parents were more willing to pay for certain traits over others; for example, women were more willing to pay for intelligence, while men were more willing to pay for health. As a group, Europeans were more likely to pay for intelligence, while Americans were more likely to pay for health. About a quarter of the parents were willing to pay more than $10,000 to modify their child’s intelligence, although most put the limit between $1,000 and $2,000. However, according to the report, when it came guaranteeing optimal health in a child, parents were willing to pay any price.

This survey was just for general information; right now, we can't yet modify a child's appearance or intelligence. However, the science in this field is moving fast, suggesting we may be there soon. For example, the main focus on designer babies at the moment is to remove certain hereditary diseases, and researchers in Sweden did just that last year, using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9 to remove certain faulty genes from human embryos. These embryos were not allowed to develop past 14 days, NPR reported, but theoretically this technology will one day create children free of adverse traits, and potentially full of more desired ones.

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