March 28, 2019

For the first time ever in the world, scientists have come up with an 'artificial womb' which can support extremely premature lamb foetuses, and believe that this can one day save the lives of human babies.


  • What is it? Artificial wombs are mechanisms that are used to grow an embryo outside of the body of a female. 

  • Potential benefits: This technology could bring hope to parents who before could not have children. It could also open the door for mothers to choose to have their babies outside their bodies, to avoid the stress of childbirth. 

  • Present status: In 2017 researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia published a study showing they had grown premature lamb fetuses for four weeks in an extra-uterine life support system. 

  • Concerns: The development of artificial womb raises bioethical and legal considerations, and also has important implications for reproductive rights. There are also concerns that children who develop in an artificial uterus may lack "some essential bond with their mothers that other children have". 

 Recent research: 

  • The recent research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that the 'artificial womb' or the artificial placenta-based life support platform can maintain lamb foetuses weighing 600 to 700 grams -- equivalent to a human foetus at 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

  • Significance: While the artificial wombs technology have been used to support late preterm foetuses, this is for the first time that it can be used to extend the life of extremely preterm foetuses, which was the ultimate clinical target of this technology. 

Source : The Hindu