BREAKTHROUGH: Artificial Wombs Could Save Extremely Premature Babies

There’s been an AMAZING breakthrough in technology for premature babies, as those born extremely early could soon be kept alive with an artificial womb. This comes after successful trials have taken place involving prematurely born animals.

BREAKTHROUGH: Artificial Wombs Could Save Extremely Premature Babies
Source: Istock.

Artificial Wombs Could Save Extremely Premature Babies

Currently, premature babies are kept in incubators to help keep them warm, but these artificial wombs have similar conditions to a real womb as they are filled with amniotic fluid, similar to the nutrient-rich liquid that is in a mother’s womb.

The device also helps circulate the infant’s blood through an umbilical cord and a gas-exchange machine, which replicates the mum’s placenta.

7-month fetus in womb
Source: iStock

So far, tests have been used on premature lambs with great success, and researchers are hoping this could help babies born at 23 weeks – who have just a 15 per cent chance of survival.

Researchers examined six pre-term lambs that were able to ‘breathe’ normally and grow in the artificial womb for up to a month.

“This system is potentially far superior to what hospital can currently do for a 23-week-old baby born at the cusp of viability,” says lead author, Dr. Alan Flake of the Centre for Foetal Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world.

“If we can develop an extra-uterine system to support growth and organ maturation for only a few weeks, we can dramatically improve outcomes for extremely premature babies.”

Dr. Flake says that there was no technology “even on the horizon” that could replace a mum’s womb until this came along.

Babies Born At Just 24 Weeks Have 66 Per Cent Survival Rate

premature baby

In Australia, around eight per cent of babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks), claims Better Health Victoria.

However, in rare instances, some infants are simply too eager to enter the world. With today’s amazing technology and constant care from NICU staff, babies born at just 23 weeks’ gestation have survived.

Have a look at our inspiring premature infant stories.