A child delivered last week in California could well be the first healthy baby born in the United States "with his entire genetic makeup deciphered in advance," according to MIT Technology Review.
The child's father is grad student, science writer and erstwhile Discover blogger Razib Khan (pictured here with his son), who Tech Review's Antonio Regalado reports "worked out a rough draft of his son's genome early this year in a do-it-yourself fashion after managing to obtain a tissue sample from the placenta of the unborn baby during the second trimester":
"We did a work-around," says Khan, 37, who is now finishing a PhD in feline population genetics at the University of California, Davis. "There is no map for doing this, and there's no checklist."
The idea of sequencing fetuses is extremely new and sensitive. Khan, who had no real medical reason to learn his son's DNA code, says sequencing his son in utero "was more cool than practical." He did it to show where technology is headed and because he likes "pushing the envelope."
Khan is already well known in genetics circles as a conservative blogger who publishes provocative views on genetics, race, and reproduction, most recently at the Unz Review, and has also criticized government regulation of DNA testing. Among his most frequent predictions over the last few years: sequencing of fetuses will soon become routine, like it or not. "The future is here, deal with it," he wrote on his blog in May.
Khan writes on his website that while he suspects others have probably sequenced their fetus' genome privately, his experience is likely the first to be made public. "Hopefully this story will prompt these individuals to come out of the shadows," he writes. "There's nothing to hide."
Read the full story over at Tech Review.