U.S. scientists are working to develop an artificial womb that could help premature babies survive.
It is basically a plastic bag that is filled with an artificial nutrient-rich fluid and has been successfully tested on foetal lambs according to a story in The Daily Mirror.
The article reports that the device is thought capable of being ready for human babies by 2020.
What makes the device particularly attractive is that unlike conventional incubators, the ‘extra-uterine support device’ reproduces conditions that are remarkably similar to a real womb.
Our system could prevent the severe morbidity (illness) suffered by extremely premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist.
— Dr. Alan Flake – Director of the Center for Fetal Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Currently, an infant born prematurely at 23 weeks has only a 30% to 50% of survival and those that survive run the risk of chronic and lifelong disabilities.