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Three-parent babies could become legal in UK

A public consultation has begun in the UK to decide if it is ethical to create an embryo using three parents in the UK.

Three parent embryoEnlarge
Is three a crowd when it comes to parenting? A new technique using the DNA from three parents may soon be legal in the UK. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

A public consultation has began in the UK to decide if it is ethical to create an embryo using three parents in the UK. 

The IVF technique uses DNA from three parents to create an embryo that is designed to avoid serious mitochondrial diseases inherited on the maternal side, according to AFP. It works by replacing some of the mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a "third parent".

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, the organization overseeing the consultation, said in a statement, "Any child born following mitochondria replacement would share DNA with three people, albeit a tiny amount with the donor. These changes would affect the germ line, meaning the donor's mitochondrial DNA would be passed on to future generations."

Chairman of the HFEA, Lisa Jardine, added, "We find ourselves in uncharted territory, balancing the desire to help families have healthy children with the possible impact on the children themselves and wider society."

According to the Telegraph, about one in 200 children born in Britain each year is thought to have some form of mitochondrial disease. While many children see little or no affect, about one in 6,500 people the level of damage causes the development of severe medical conditions including muscular dystrophy and ataxia, a neurological condition affecting balance, coordination and speech.

The Progress Educational Trust conducting a survey of 800 people where they found that two thirds supported the use of the technique while a third opposed it.

The public consultation in the UK will run until December 7. The public is encouraged to share their thoughts on the HFEA website. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120917/three-parent-babies-could-become-legal-uk