Scientists in Philadelphia have created a magnificent machine that has successfully incubated eight premature lambs. Their plan? For this to be used for human development, more specifically, premature babies!
The plastic womb contains the key components to sustain life and researchers hope to one day use similar technology in humans to help the tiniest premature babies grow up healthy.
Their main goal is to support infants from 23 weeks to 28 weeks gestational age; at 28 weeks they cross the region where being born after isn’t as life threatening as between these few vital weeks. Most 23 weekers are born weighing 600 grams or less.
The main reason for these tests?
To help premature babies live a happy, healthy and full life. In the UK, there are around 60,000 babies born a little earlier than they should be. But many suffer with health problems as a result of coming so early. For some babies, their lungs just aren’t ready to inhale air as opposed to the fluid in their mothers womb, so this then means they suffer with lung and brain injuries if they are to survive.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have decided enough is enough and created a miracle womb with the function that this will be their new home for when they arrive early. To put them back into the environment their little bodies are best suited for, inhaling the fluid and feeding from a technological placenta that gives them their oxygen and nutrients.
What’s in the bag?
- A plastic bag that is full of electrolyte solution, it’s made in the lab to simulate what amniotic fluid would look and feel like.
Two tubes, one for drawing blood out of the body and then running it through a special machine called an oxygenator. The second is then designed to feed the bloody back into the unborn child.
- The tests done on the eight lambs, all came out with no bad outcomes. Healthy as a lamb can be!
They even played a sheep’s heartbeat to the lambs in grow whilst they kept them in a dark. Creating the real deal from head to hoof.
“Our system could prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist,” said Alan W. Flake, MD.
You can thank Alan W. Flake, MD, 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) for this amazing discovery and probably years of research – to help our friends and family members in the future to have successful pregnancies and perfect babies.