Artificial Womb Developed To Help Premature Babies Grow

Posted: Apr 26 2017, 4:40am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Artificial Womb Developed to Help Premature Babies Grow
  • An Artificial Womb has been Found to be Successful in Premature Animal Babies

An artificial womb that the scientists constructed has been found to be successful in premature animal babies. The question is: are human beings next?

A singular womb-like arrangement that has been designed by pediatricians could change the way we look at premature babies in the future.

This artificial environment mimics the fluid-filled womb and has so far been applied in the case of premature animal babies. It allows them a few weeks’ margin to develop their organs to sufficient maturity to be able to come out of the artificial womb alive and well.

This scheme could allow for the prevention of any severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. It almost lends us access to a medical biotechnology that doesn’t exist just yet.

The trials of this extra-uterine technology took place recently and the results were published in a scientific journal. The tests took place on fetal lambs which have lungs that resemble those of human beings.

A container was filled with fluid and the fetal lamb was placed inside it. It was attached to special machines that provided physical support.

This environment has a fixed temperature, is sterile and filled with amniotic fluid. A sort of umbilical cord is attached to it as well. Electronic monitors outside the device measure vital statistics.

Of the one in ten premature births in the US, 30,000 are annually liable to be critically preterm. This means they are younger than 26 weeks. Such prematurity may lead to morbidity and mortality.

This accounts for one third of all infant deaths and one half of all cerebral palsy cases. While care has improved with the times, it still comes at a heavy price. Quality of life is often lost in the process. The risks of damage are just too great when life is premature and so extremely vulnerable.

The transition period that exists between the mother’s womb and the outside world requires comprehensive planning and intensive care. An extra-uterine system would be the ideal thing for such cases of premature babies.

Growth and organ maturity require it on an urgent basis. The artificial womb took three years to perfect. After a series of prototypes, it emerged as a solution for premature animal babies.

The question on everyone’s lips is: are humans next? It is a case of perfecting the artificial womb till even human babies can survive in it till maturity. This will take time though since it is not as easy as it sounds.

The details about this artificial womb are described in a paper titled: “An extra-uterine physiologic support system for the extreme premature lamb” in the journal Nature Communications.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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