Book Review: Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children

Book Review

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BOOK REVIEW: Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children, by Jane Stewart

Reviewed by: Natalie Clark Stentz, M.D., M.S.C.E.1

1Gago Center for Fertility, Brighton, MI

This interesting cross-sectional exploration of reproductive technology examines the breadth of complex ethical, social and policy concerns unique to our field. In his research for Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children1, psychiatrist and bioethicist Dr. Robert Klitzman interviewed and surveyed hundreds of clinicians and patients about their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors and personally explored hundreds of infertility related websites to examine emerging themes. He draws upon the personal stories of patients, physicians, psychotherapists and nurses to illustrate their hopes, dreams, obstacles, concerns, and fears.

The book is divided in to several parts, with an introduction that offers a good summary of assistive reproductive technology and its history to the layman or, perhaps, rotating medical student. Part II examines the array of reproductive choices our patients make, including the choice to initiate evaluation and treatment, whose gametes to use, and what testing to employ. Part III examines how patients choose they physicians, and conversely, how physicians choose their patients. Part IV explores the myriad financial, emotional and ethical costs contemplated by patient and physician alike. And finally, Part V focuses on the future of reproductive medicine and implications for education, policy and society at large. 

Written for a popular audience, this book sensationalizes the somewhat more mundane and humble work of caring for patients struggling with infertility as a disease. While interesting and, at times, informative, the manuscript has inaccuracies that would have benefited from a thorough preprint review by a reproductive endocrinologist.  Furthermore, while well-meaning, the skepticism of the ethics and intentions physicians and scientists introduced by Dr. Klitzman could pose deleterious in the current era of a war on science. However, by providing the measured perspective of a robust cross-sectional sample of patients and providers, “Designing Babies” makes one feel they are not alone in the clinical quandaries that occasionally present themselves in our field. 

Reference:

  1. Klitzman RL. Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children. Oxford University Press; 2019.

 

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.