Another day, another incredible discovery from the science world – and this innovation could give a greater chance of survival to extremely premature babies.


According to a new report in the scientific journal Nature Communications, scientists have managed to create an artificial womb in a lab.


A team of researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) developed the amazing piece of technology, called a BioBag.


The device contains a kind of plastic bag filled with a nutrient-rich liquid designed as a type of artificial version of amniotic fluid.


The team used foetal lambs to test out the BioBag, and the results were incredible. Each lamb was the equivalent in age to a 23-week-old human infant, and was kept inside the device for no longer than a month. Oxygen was supplied to them via the umbilical cord.



The lambs’ time spent inside the BioBag gave them the chance to develop outside of their mothers’ bodies, while still keeping them healthy. And, amazingly, the lambs continued to develop as they normally would have, had they been inside their mothers’ wombs.


The research and development of the device – which has been attempted by teams in labs all over the world – has been hailed as ‘heroic and monumental’, with many experts believing it could hold the key to keeping extremely premature babies alive outside of the womb.


Obviously, the next step is to carry out human trials, which the research team believes could happen in as little time as three to five years into the future.


Commenting on the significance of the findings, Alan Flake – a foetal surgeon at the CHOP – said: “If we can support growth and organ maturation for only a few weeks, we can dramatically improve outcomes for extremely premature babies.”


While this invention could potentially save lives, the research team was eager to emphasise that its aim is to provide a safe transition to the outside world for the baby; not, under any circumstances, to replace the baby’s development process within the womb.


It’s a good news day on the topic of premature babies. The State of New York is setting the standard for Governments everywhere, by promising to budget for the provision of breast milk to preemie babies born into low-income families.