Artificial placenta technology is creating ripples around the world

Researchers all around the world are working day and night to improve the survival rates for prematurely born babies in one of the most innovative ways which science has made possible, which is through artificial placentas that mimic the womb.

The only sad part of this entire clinical process is that the technology hasn’t reached a proper trial but the researchers at hospitals are making the kind of progress that can only be called dramatic.

With an artificial extracorporeal placenta being made and keeping 5 premature lambs alive for an entire week, we can finally say that science is making many breakthroughs. This type of placenta utilizes a technology known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Most people won’t quite understand how big of a breakthrough this is. Extremely premature babies who are on the verge of dying can be saved with the artificial placenta technology.

They can grow in a safer environment and can be monitored better. The critical organ development of a child can take place outside the mother’s womb.How will this procedure help women?

Ectogenesis will provide a solution for more than 1 in 600 women who have uterine abnormalities. These women might have  undergone a hysterectomy or might have had their uterus removed after ovarian cancer. There are also so many women around the world who desperately want to have a baby but can’t because of some disease or PCOS. This technology is going to change that.

How can a baby be safe with this procedure?

It is not just the mothers who will be safe with the  artificial womb technology but the babies as well. Doctors say that the most common time a baby can die before being born is either through abortion or during childbirth. When a foetus is not in the mother’s body, the doctors can take great care of it. They can control what it gets exposed to, and not just that, they also see if the foetus needs to be operated upon. When this happens, the mother will be under no risk and the foetus will also be much safer.

The downside 

Although we have come a long way from the time when people thought something like this was impossible, the risk of long term disability and the death still remains very high for infants that have been born before the completion of 24 weeks. They have fragile bodies that are just not prepared to live a life completely outside a mother’s womb.

What is the greatest risk that prevents doctors from taking the big step right now?

When a baby is prematurely born, it’s lungs are so fragile that it can’t even handle the gentlest ventilation technique. Our body needs oxygen to survive. Without proper working lungs, the heart, brain and other organs will not get the required oxygen that needs to help them function.

Even though the research is at a very nascent stage, a lot of progress has been made. With the lambs staying alive for so long, a 2.7 million dollars health grant was given for further development in the artificial placenta research. Hopefully more grants like this keep coming and the world becomes a safer place for would-be-mothers and newborns.

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