Technology Saves The Day: Helping Save Babies From Being Born Prematurely

Technology Saves The Day: Helping Save Babies From Being Born Prematurely
May 12 19:43 2017 Print This Article

Technology Saves The Day: Helping Save Babies From Being Born Prematurely

Every parent hopes that their newborn will be safe and healthy. Normally, the gestation period of a full-term pregnancy is between 37 and 42 weeks. Hence, any child born before 37 weeks is termed premature.

Premature babies are prone to many challenges, which include the likelihood of being born with underdeveloped organs. Moreover, many premature babies have respiratory complications. This is because lungs are usually one of the last organs to fully develop during gestation.

Technology companies like MKE software are working hard to find lasting solutions to human challenges. In that light, the problem of premature births could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a newly invented technology.   

What’s This Technology All About?

The technology is actually an “artificial womb.” It was developed with the hopes that it’ll one day be used to save babies born prematurely.

However, the revolutionary womb has only been tried on fetal lambs. Scientists believe it could be ready for human trials in about 3-5 years. According to one study, which involved eight animals, the device proved to be effective at allowing extremely premature fetuses to develop normally for roughly one month.

Alan Flake, who’s a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led the study. According to him, they were exceptionally successful in replacing the conditions in the “womb.”  The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Flake pointed out that the test animals had:

  • Normal growth
  • Normal lung maturation
  • Normal brain maturation

In fact, they had normal development in every measurable aspect. In developing the technology, Flake and his team of scientists were simply trying to create a system that is as similar to the environment of the womb as possible.

What’s in The “Artificial Womb?”

The technology encompasses a clear plastic bag filled with artificial amniotic fluid. The fluid is rich in nutrients. Outside the bag, there is a machine that connects to the umbilical cord. The machine serves as a placenta, supplying nutrients and oxygen to the blood while getting rid of carbon dioxide.

According to Flake, the whole concept is geared towards supporting normal development. It re-creates everything that the mother does in a bid to promote normal fetal development as well as maturation.

Other scientists have commended the technology. They have observed that it has the potential to save thousands of babies born extremely prematurely every year. That is if trials in humans turn out successful.

For instance, Jay Greenspan, who is a pediatrician at Thomas Jefferson University, branded the device a “technological miracle,” which marks a great step in trying to do something that scientists have been trying to do for years.

Likewise, the device could play a great role in helping scientists refine their knowledge on normal fetal development. The device is kept in a dark, warm room. Here, the sound of the mother’s heart is played for the lamb fetus. The researchers also monitor the fetus using ultrasounds.

Ethical Concerns

Other researchers opined that the technology could raise ethical issues. This includes numerous questions on whether human trials would ever be okay.

According to Dena Davis, who is a bioethicist at Lehigh University, there exists all manners of possibilities of stress and pain whereas there’s no significant likelihood of success. However, Flake says that ethical concerns should be weighed against the challenges newborns are exposed to when they’re born extremely prematurely.

Final Thoughts

Premature babies are normally exposed to severe challenges. Fortunately, if this new technology turns out successful on humans, it’ll revolutionize the prevention of premature births.

 

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About Article Author

Jonathan Yaniv
Jonathan Yaniv

Jonathan is the founder and editor-in-chief of TrustedNerd.com. Covering major tech shows such as CES, Jonathan is always there for the latest tech news. Want your gadget to be reviewed or have a release you'd like to be considered for publishing? Send Jonathan an email, jonathan [at] trustednerd.com

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