Scientists develop fluid-filled artificial womb to potentially help premature babies

(Reuters) – Scientists in the United States have developed a fluid-filled womb-like bag known as an extra-uterine support device that could transform care for extremely premature babies, significantly improving chances of survival. In pre-clinical studies with lambs, the researchers were able to mimic the womb environment and the functions of the placenta, giving premature offspring a crucial opportunity to develop their lungs and other organs. Around 30,000 babies in the United States alone are born critically early – at between 23 and 26 weeks of gestation, the researchers told reporters in a telephone briefing. At that age, a human baby weighs little more than 500 grams, its lungs are not able to cope with air and its chances of survival are low. Death rates are up to 70% and those who do survive face life-long disability. “These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world,” said Alan Flake, a specialist surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the development of the new device. His team’s aim, he said, was to develop an extra-uterine system where extremely premature babies can be suspended in fluid-filled chambers for a vital few weeks to bring them over the 28-week threshold, when their life chances are dramatically improved. It could take up to another 10 years, but by then he hopes to have a licensed device in which babies born very prematurely are given the chance ...
Source: Mass Device - Category: Medical Equipment Authors: Tags: Research & Development Source Type: news

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