Feb 21, 2019 | Updated: 08:27 AM EST

Artificial Womb Successfully Grew Premature Baby Lamb: Could Save Human Premature Babies Too, But Others Disagree

Apr 27, 2017 07:22 PM EDT


Scientists have invented a plastic artificial womb that enabled a premature baby lamb to survive. People then state that it won’t be too long before the artificial womb would revolutionize baby birth and aid premature human babies as well. However, other people disagree.

According to CNN, Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study stated that they had just developed an artificial womb that indeed imitated the environment of a womb as “closely as possible.” The study published in the journal Nature Communications involved five premature lambs aged 105 to 111 days.

Flake further explained that the premature lambs successfully had normal growth, normal brain and lung maturation. The lambs had normal development in every way as Flake stated. The artificial womb device was identified to allow premature babies to grow and develop normally in a month.

Regarding what comprises the artificial womb, it was described that it is a clear plastic bag filled with synthetic amniotic fluid. "The whole idea is to support normal development; to re-create everything that the mother does in every way that we can to support normal fetal development and maturation," Flake added.

The artificial womb machine was also described to have a machine outside the plastic bag that connects it to an umbilical cord to serve as a placenta. In which was done in order for the baby to receive nutrition and oxygen in their blood and have carbon dioxide removed.

The team then aims to test the artificial womb on premature human babies within three to five years as NPR reported. Still, other people worry that the device might be used by others coercively like making women think to abort their babies in order to put them into artificial wombs as mentioned by Scott Gelfand, a bioethicist at Oklahoma State University.

Gelfand also stated that some employers might urge female employees to get an artificial womb in order to avoid maternity leave. Dena Davis, a bioethicist at Lehigh University also worried that the artificial womb might not be necessary. Davis thinks that there is a big difference between a dying baby in peace compared to being subjected to “stress and discomfort” and concluded that she doesn’t prefer the device.

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