How artificial wombs can be beneficial for premature babies?

How artificial wombs can be beneficial for premature babies?

Artificial wombs as tested on animals like lambs, goats produced encouraging results and showed that premature babies can have survival chances and reduce complications and odds. Every year around 15 millions babies born are actually premature and this leads to a lot of complications. Among so many premature babies, those who manage to survive are at the risk of suffering lifelong medical complications. Just to care for the early arrivals, Children Hospital of Philadelphia has come up with artificial uterus to recreate the conditions needed for the proper development of the premature babies. Tests on animals have been encouraging as the premature lambs grew normally once they spent 4 weeks in the artificial uterus.

Facts on premature babies and the use of artificial womb

A healthy human baby normally takes 40 weeks to grow but if a baby is born in 37 weeks, the baby will be considered premature. The earlier the baby arrives, more will be the chance of complications and odds. If born between 22-24weeks, there will not be any chance of survival. Any baby born earlier will have less chance of survival and even if the baby survives, the baby will have lifelong disability in the form of cerebral palsy, organ problems and learning difficulty. Such premature infants require a bridge between the natural womb of the mother and the world outside. An artificial womb is actually uterine system which supports the growth and development of the premature baby. An artificial uterus assists in organ maturation for some weeks to improve the outcome while allowing the baby to grow naturally. So, the premature baby lives just like other babies who are not premature.

CHOP’s artificial uterus design and importance

CHOP designed an artificial uterus to carry the infants all through the gestational age of 23 weeks-28 weeks. You may say that the stage of development is still premature but the fetus has already crossed the safety threshold to avoid complications and debilitating consequences. This is the device which is revolutionary enough to maintain a constant temperature, constant light and pressure while protecting the baby from infection. The artificial amniotic fluid flows in and out while the baby is incased in the bag like artificial womb. As the lungs of the baby are not developed by that time, there is no external pump present. It is the heart of the baby which performs its job of pumping the blood through umbilical cord to an external oxygenator. This is a low-resistance oxygenator which eliminates wastes and supplies fresh oxygen. It is the exact role performed by the placenta of the mother. The blood flow and vital signs are monitored closely here. The entire system was tested on lambs where 8 premature lambs were placed in the artificial wombs for 28 days. These lambs were just like human infants from physiological perspective. Later on they started to grow normally and had a normal brain functioning.

The system of artificial womb is far more superior to what the doctors in the hospitals can do to save the premature babies. It indeed establishes a new standard of care to safeguard the premature babies.

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