British first: Babies can now be made from three parents in the UK
The UK has become the first country in the world to allow babies to be made from two women and one man, as the fertility regulator approves the measures.
The first baby born of three parents is expected as soon as the end of 2017.
The move comes as a result of controversial plans by doctors to prevent children being born with serious and deadly genetic diseases.
Diseases passed down to the baby by one mother can prove fatal.
By using a technique of combining the mother’s egg with a donor egg with the father’s sperm, it’s hoped the chances of inheriting fatal diseases are significantly reduced.
A new child is born with a small amount of DNA from a third parent, the donor, which has caused some controversy.
But experts say the process is considered scientifically ready, and is now fully legal and approved.
Some families have lost multiple children to fatal inherited diseases, who will welcome the approval of the process today.
“It is a decision of historic importance,” said Sally Cheshire, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) told BBC News.
“This is about cautious go ahead, not gung-ho go ahead and there is a long way to go.
“I’m sure patients will be really pleased by what we’ve decided today.”
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Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS Trust will be the first to use the new technology, with up to 25 families a year expected to benefit from the procedure.
However some campaigners have staunchly opposed the move – claiming it opens the door to so-called ‘designer babies’.
Dr David King, from the campaign group Human Genetics Alert, said: “This decision opens the door to the world of genetically-modified designer babies.
“Already, bioethicists have started to argue that allowing mitochondrial replacement means that there is no logical basis for resisting GM babies, which is exactly how slippery slopes work.”
The pair have been criticised for endorsing ‘designer babies’ by picking out a model to be biological mother to their new children.