The scientific journal “Nature Communications” published an article about the successful test of an artificial uterus. During four weeks American scientists have been growing preterm lambs inside it. According to the authors, if further experiments are successful, they will start making researchers involving human after three or five years.
Artificial womb is a plastic bag filled with analogue amniotic fluid. The fetus receives oxygen and other essential nutrients through the “umbilical cord”. Experts from Children’s hospital of Philadelphia (USA) during last research placed eight lambs that were taken from the uterus of a sheep at 15-17 weeks of development in a system. The rate of pregnancy of a sheep lasts 21 weeks. Animals stayed inside the artificial womb for four weeks.
For researchers, it was important to understand how the fetus developed in an artificial womb, so after removing from pack animals were killed, their bodies were dissected. Lambs were well developing in artificial uterus. Such technology is of great importance for people. If the child is born at 24th week of pregnancy, his chances of survival are now 50/50.
However, right now it is impossible to say that this development will definitely save premature babies. As a minimum, human children are smaller than lambs at this age and they have less developed brains. To create an artificial womb for them is much more complicated than for animals.
If further experiments are successful, premature babies will be moved after cesarean section in an artificial womb. Children will be kept in artificial conditions during four weeks. Researchers remind that this technology will improve the chances of survival only of those children who were born at 24th week or later.