For thousands of years, the concepts of family and children have remained relatively unchanged. From our youngest years, most of us were taught that a family consists of a mother, father, and their children. The father’s stereotypical role was to earn and provide for a family, and the mother’s was to take care of the household and its inhabitants, raise children. The possibility of having children and their gender, health, and peculiarities were believed to be decided by fate. However, every one of these preconceptions is being challenged today. We see a rise in gay marriage, merging and shifting of gender roles, great improvements in fertility practices and reproductive technologies. While all of these points are important, many people are specifically interested in such reproductive technology capabilities as gender selection. It is true – we now possess the technology to select the sex of our future children, provided a certain set of conditions are applied.
The procedure with which selection is accomplished is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (shortened to PGD), and can only be conducted jointly with IVF (in vitro fertilization). PGD can be conducted as soon as some embryos are fostered in a stable lab environment. These embryos should be at the earliest stage of development, consisting of a handful of cells, so when PGD begins and a microlaser conducts the extraction of a small blastomere, no damage to the embryo takes place. This sample and others taken from remaining embryos is then analyzed, and the gender fixed in their genetic code is quickly determined. Thus, the patients opting for this procedure can choose to be implanted with a healthy embryo of the right gender.
The practice of selecting a future child’s sex is applied for several different reasons. For many people, this is simply a matter of preference. They would like to have a child of a particular gender to raise him or her according to their individual plans. Many parents who choose this option have had children before (often even several) of the same gender, and would like to add some diversity or conceive a playmate that would be more suitable for his siblings. For others, this is a medical matter. There are several documented illnesses and conditions that are passed down genetically, but only to children of a specific gender. In this regard, it can be much more considerate and prudent to select a child’s sex that will not bear such harmful health defects and will be able to lead a healthy life. PGD is a wholly safe procedure that finally lets you make significant choices about the identity of the child you wish to raise.