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Suppose parents-to-be could guarantee their children will grow up to be unusually healthy. Or extra smart. Or maybe just a little better looking than mom and dad.

Sound pretty good?

Now, suppose that guarantee requires a level of planning that goes way beyond the usual prenatal care. Suppose it requires some fiddling with the future kids' DNA, adding a few genes here and there to slow down aging or rev up the brain circuitry or lock in resistance to viruses.

Still sound good?

Even if your answer is a definite no, some scientists believe many parents will find this a very attractive option. For now, the choice is science fiction-- but just barely so.

The time is coming, many scientists say, when parents will pick their children's genes.

From the menu of possibilities, parents might select genes to make their babies resist common diseases and infections, things like cancer, AIDS, heart attacks and Alzheimer's disease. Maybe they would like their children to have fabulous memories or winning personalities or a talent for playing the piano.

A couple of extra inches...