In the system, which has only been tested in animals so far, the premature infant is placed in a plastic bag filled with a substitute for amniotic fluid.
"This system is potentially far superior to what hospitals can now do for a 23-week-old baby born at the cusp of viability", Dr. Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study, said in a press statement. But on Tuesday, researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia announced that their "Biobag"-an artificial womb/placenta system-has kept extremely premature lamb fetuses alive for longer and healthier than similar previous technologies". It's filled with amniotic fluid, and connected to a flow of oxygenated blood, just like the umbilical cord would ordinarily provide. But scientists have developed a new system that could potentially help premature babies born as early as 23 or 24 weeks: an artificial womb created to mimic the conditions inside a mother's uterus. Electronic monitors outside the device measure vital statistics. But growing lamb fetuses is just the beginning. The researchers successfully tested eight lamb fetuses this way.
The researchers say they hope the technology might prove a breakthrough in improving the prospects for critically premature babies, who face a fight for survival even with heavy medical intervention, and often face serious health complications if they make it.
The full details of the discovery were in Nature Communications.
Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shared that the study had been successful on a fetal lamb.
The new device helped even the youngest lambs develop normally.
How to watch Call of Duty WW2 announcement live stream
You get to storm Normandy , fight anti-air battles with heavy artillery, use flamethrowers, and even roleplay Saving Private Ryan. First on the list is the upcoming game's setting, which, as the name suggests, relives all the happenings from the infamous war .
Babies born before 28 weeks have particularly high chances of chronic lung disease and other problems related to organ immaturity, so getting a 24-week-old foetus to that age in gestation could significantly improve the quality of life these preemies have.
In light of this progress, experts assert that artificial wombs may be a reality in the next few decades.
The team will next work on refining the system and prepare it for human infant use.
Among the reasons that the fluid environment is important is that it gives premature babies' lungs a chance to mature before they have to contend with the same environment as everyone else, the researchers said.
"With that we would have normal physiologic development and avoid essentially all the major risks of prematurity - and that would translate into a huge impact on pediatric health". The team envisions developing a system that would be a radical departure from keeping preterm babies in artificially ventilated incubators.
One of the invention's key features that the premature lambs brought to term with this machine didn't breathe in air. "This could establish a new standard of care for this subset of extremely premature infants".