• An Nguyen

Artificial womb could keep premature babies alive

Picture Credit: CNN.com

Premature lambs were kept alive for 4 weeks outside of their mother’s womb in an artificial womb.

According to CNN.com, “The sealed bag, made of polythene, contains amniotic fluid to provide all the nutrients and protection needed for growth, an interface delivering oxygen just as an umbilical cord would, and exchanging gases just like a placenta.”

The system works to mimic the environment of a natural womb and the team hopes to one day use the technology on premature babies.

“Globally, more than one in 10 pregnancies will end in preterm birth. In babies born preterm, the chance of survival at less than 23 weeks is almost zero, while at 23 weeks it is 15%, at 24 weeks 55% and at 25 weeks this increases to about 80%,” according to UK maternal and fetal research charity, Tommy's.

Dr. Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon and director of the Center for Fetal Research in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) led the research.

Flake's team hope their new system may improve survival rates among premature babies in the future, but acknowledge it will take at least a decade.