There's always womb for improvement!
In an amazing advance in medical science, researchers have developed an artificial womb that is able to grow preterm lambs for up to a month.
The researchers, from the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, have in effect created an artificial womb far more developed than anything produced previously. After going through several iterations of the system (including glass incubators) over a period of three years, they eventually settled on one that utilizes a plastic film bag connected to gas exchange machines and sensors.
The system effectively mimics the conditions within the womb, with the container being filled with a unique lab-produced liquid that replicates amniotic fluid. As the developing lungs are unable to breathe atmospheric oxygen, this step allows the developing fetus to breathe the artificial amniotic fluid that flows in and out of the bag. It also contains all the necessary nutrients and growth factors for healthy development.
Advances in medicine in recent years have seen an incredible increase in the survival rate of preterm babies, with infants born at just 23 weeks of gestation given a 30 to 50 percent chance of survival. But there is a difficult pay-off, as such infants often face a reduced quality of life. They have a staggering 90 percent chance of mortality, while half of all cases of cerebral palsy are due to prematurity.