What seems to be a usual plastic bag is, in fact, a big help for premature babies. Recently, it was used as an artificial womb to keep premature lambs survive despite being outside their mother's womb. Scientists hope that one day, it can be used for premature human babies.
As reported by CNN, the plastic bag is made of polyethylene which works like mammal's womb. It has amniotic fluid that would suffice the nutrients necessary for the baby's growth while inside. It also has an interface, which works like the real umbilical cord, to transport the oxygen needed.
The test involved five premature lambs which ages are about 105 to 111 days old and three lambs that are about 115 to 120 days old. It is made of the necessary factors such as the circulatory system, fetus' own heart, and a closed environment. The result is astounding as it works closely like the human womb.
The team behind the sealed bag, which imitates the natural womb's environment, hopes to apply the technology to the premature babies one day. "We've developed a system that, as closely as possible, reproduces the environment of the womb and replaces the function of the placenta," the director of the Center for Fetal Research in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the leader of the research Dr. Alan Flake said.
According to his team, one out of 10 births in the United States are born younger than 37 gestational weeks while about 30, 000 are preterm or born before 26 weeks. This is a critical condition as the normal gestation for human are about 40 weeks.
"This treatment will not enter the clinic anytime soon," Colin Duncan said as WTKR cited. "That treatment took well over 20 years to get into clinical practice."
With the recent discovery, the problem with preterm babies can be lessened. However, there are still a lot of room for improvements, as one of the professors of University of Edinburgh said.