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Controversial 3-parent baby technique produces a boy

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(CNN)Not everyone is rejoicing following the birth of a seemingly healthy three-parent baby earlier this year, which is detailed in study published in a scientific journal Tuesday. The baby boy was born on April 6 in Mexico, having been conceived using a technique called spindle nuclear transfer.

As reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the use of this reproductive technology was intended to prevent Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological condition that affects at least one in 40,000 newborns.
    The mother previously had four pregnancy losses and had given birth to two children, one who survived less than a year, another who lived only 6 years due to the syndrome. For religious reasons, the mother wanted to use a technique that would not require the destruction of fertilized eggs, which an approved treatment in the United Kingdom would require.
    Led by Dr. John Zhang, founder of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City, her doctors left the US, where the technique has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and performed their work in Mexico, which is free of similar regulations.
    “It is regrettable that it is now occurring in countries that have not had similarly serious close looks at both the technical and ethical aspects,” said Charo. “It’s going to be difficult to use the results of this particular effort in the context of organized data collection,” she said, “And that’s a shame, that’s a real loss of information not only to science but to every patient in the future who is considering this.”
    More importantly, though, she is concerned for the boy who is now 6 months old. “Follow-up is going to be important to look at the health of the child,” said Charo.
    “It’s always wonderful that a baby has been born and born healthy… as far as we know,” said Knowles. She is not alone in her skepticism for the future health of this baby.Tuesday, the Science Media Centre published the comments of 12 experts, many who reported similar reactions to the news.
    “We know that the procedure is not perfect,” said Dr. David J Clancy, lecturer, Lancaster University, who explained that in 2015, a published study showed “that tissue-specific expansion of mutated mitochondrial DNA during development can occur and so could cause disease if levels are high enough.”
    A healthy baby might eventually develop a disease, Clancy suggests.
    Knowles also pointed out that four out of five eggs fertilized by Zhang and his colleagues were nonviable — only one embryo could produce a child.

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    “It shows you the technique itself is still quite fallible,” said Knowles, who noted that there’s no guarantee the defective mutation might not accumulate within the baby boy and eventually lead to disease. “Which is the whole reason you’re supposed to go slowly… and not jump right into creating babies.”
    CNN was unable to reach Zhang for this article.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/27/health/3-parent-baby/index.html

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