His technique, known as cytoplasmic transfer, was intended to "rescue" the eggs of infertile women who had undergone repeated, unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilization, or IVF.
When the first baby conceived through cytoplasmic transfer was born in 1997, the press instantly hailed Cohen's technique as yet another technological miracle.
At a recent meeting in Europe, the New Jersey researchers reported that one of the children conceived through cytoplasmic transfer has been diagnosed with "pervasive developmental disorder," a catch-all term for symptoms that range from mild delays in speech to autism.
Now, many bioethicists believe that Cohen's experiment with cytoplasmic transfer was just one more small step towards a world in which eugenics is another name for making babies.
A threat posed by both ICSI and another reproductive technology called cytoplasmic transfer stems from mixing two sources of mitochondria, Dr.
Cytoplasmic transfer involves sucking out about 5% of the cytoplasm from an infertile woman's egg and replacing it with cytoplasm from a donor egg.