How many time have you asked yourself the question: “Is it possible to grow a baby outside of its mother?” You’ve seen it in sci-fi movies, and you may have had some dreams about this. But science is very close to making it possible! Researchers have proven it possible to grow a lamb inside an artificial womb. This is not a simple bag of plastic with tubes, but it is an artificial womb with fluids. The fetus lamb then receives these fluids.
This artificial womb protects the lamb in the late stages of gestation. This could be used to save the lives of many premature babies.
Babies who are born at or before 25 weeks barely survive, and this is the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity in the US. “Just looking at them it’s immediately clear that they shouldn’t be here yet, they’re not ready,” said Emily Partridge, a doctor for critically premature infants at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and also one of the researchers. The artificial womb could act as a bridge between the mother’s womb and the outside world.
The experiment and the outcomes
The researchers took eight lambs between 105 to 120 days gestation (the physiological equivalent of 23 to 24 weeks in humans) and placed them in the artificial womb. The results were incredible. After four weeks, the lambs’ brains and lungs developed! Also, the lambs grew wool and they could wiggle, swallow, and open their eyes. Everything in their growth was normal. However, scientists need to take this research from scratch for human babies, because artificial wombs of human babies have failed before in 1996. There is still hope, though. Researchers say that they hope to test this device on premature human babies in the next three to five years.