Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have created an artificial womb. Inside of the womb, they placed a premature lamb foetus. They then kept the foetus in the womb for four weeks. The big question was: Would the lamb foetus survive?
Turns out, it didn’t just survive, it thrived. Over its four weeks in the artificial womb, the lamb started to grow a wool coat, gained weight, and even opened its eyes. The researchers successfully tested eight lamb fetuses this way. But growing lamb fetuses is just the beginning.
Ultimately, the researchers are working toward creating an artificial womb that could sustain premature human babies. Preemies haven’t had time to fully develop in the womb and, therefore, are at a higher risk of health problems throughout their life.
If doctors could place a preemie inside of an artificial womb where it could spend its remaining weeks fully developing, this could completely change that baby’s life. The researchers emphasised that future artificial wombs for humans could only sustain babies born after 23 weeks in the womb.
So, the mother’s womb is still essential for conception and early-stage development.
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