Artificial womb technology has potential to save thousands of premature newborns

An artificial womb allows premature babies to keep breathing fluid

Scientists have created a fake womb that might help premature babies. It looks like something from a science fiction story, but it could be used to save babies very soon.

A group of people at the hospital made a strange bag that imitates the fluid-filled space inside a mother’s womb. This is where babies get used to breathing in liquid instead of air.

The artificial womb helps premature babies grow until their lungs are more developed and ready to breathe on their own.

Dr Emily Partridge said the plan is to help people through difficult times until they can manage on their own.

Babies that are extremely premature are born before 28 weeks of the normal 40-week pregnancy. About 6 out of every 100 babies are born in the UK right now, which is around 3,200 babies. Babies born at 22 weeks have a 10% chance of survival, but before 22 weeks the chance is almost zero.

The team tested their new device on baby lambs that were born early, about the same as a baby born at 23 or 24 weeks.
A baby sheep in a machine that acts like a mother’s womb.

The baby lambs were put in a machine that acted as a womb, and their umbilical cords were connected to a device that gave them oxygen and pumped blood through their bodies, just like it would happen in their mother’s womb. The liquid, created in a lab to copy the fluid in the womb, was then used to help the lamb breathe like normal.

The tests went really well, so now the team wants permission to test the device on people.

The animals showed normal or increased activity, slept at regular times, breathed and swallowed occasionally, and seemed comfortable and not stressed, said the team.

One problem is that parents of premature babies might feel overwhelmed and emotional, making it difficult for them to make a fully informed decision about the trial.

Yale University’s Mark Mercurio said that he thinks the good things about the artificial womb could be more important than the risks for babies born very early, when they have less than a 20% chance of living.

Dr Partridge said the project taught him to never give up. “You have to keep trying, keep going until you succeed. ”

However, it can’t make babies grow completely in a lab, which is a dream for some science fiction writers.

Dr Alan Flake, a team member, has said that this idea is just a simple but exciting idea without much technical or developmental knowledge.


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