Premature babies suffer from several health problems such as apnea, respiratory distress syndrome, or anemia. Even while being kept in incubators and hooked to ventilators, premature babies face many challenges. However, there may be hope as researchers have now created an artificial womb to help extremely premature babies survive amidst a less harsh environment.
In an attempt to treat preterm infants effectively, researchers created an incubator that is just like a human womb. It has already been used to incubate baby lambs and has yielded positive results, indicating that the process can be replicated for human infants as well. The research by the Women and Infants Research Foundation, the University of Western Australia, and Tohoku University Hospital, Japan has been published in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
In this research, a healthy, infection-free environment was created using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy to facilitate the growth of preterm lambs. A fluid-filled transparent container was created to simulate a mother’s uterus with a high-tech amniotic fluid bath and an artificial placenta. An extremely premature lamb fetus that was almost inert and spent its time mostly sleeping was kept inside the system for four weeks. The fetus managed to grow in a healthy manner and after four weeks, it opened its eyes and breathed normally.
The research findings could be instrumental in creating and perfecting future technology that could potentially protect premature babies from the usual complications, more specifically to help their immature lungs breathe properly. The artificial womb should effectively help the babies develop their lungs and other organs and survive.