Prematurely-born babies, especially extremely early “preemies,” face many severe, often fatal health risks.
While nothing can take the place of preventing prematurity, scientists are slowly working on solutions. The most intriguing of which is a study that builds towards creating artificial wombs that can help reduce risks for the most extreme cases. These plastic, fluid-filled incubators, have recently been tested on lambs and the results were promising.
The Verge reports on a study published in the journal Nature.
“Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop — much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus — but right now, it has only been tested on sheep.”
This is many years away from being tested or used on human babies, but it does show a likelihood that future generations may have more options for preemies.