Philadelphia researchers developed a system that mimics the mother’s womb that could provide hope to premature babies.
The inert plastic “biobag” developed by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researchers contains electrolyte fluid that serves as an amniotic fluid substitute, according to USA Today.
The biobag also contains a device that acts in place of the placenta, allowing the baby’s heart to pump blood via the umbilical cord for a continuous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
“This is an old idea,” Dr. Alan Flake, study leader, told USA Today. “People pursued it for about 60 years experimentally but we were able to do what others haven’t been able to do and some of that is related to technology.”
Tested on pre-term lambs
Researchers tested the system on eight pre-term lambs. The lambs did well and developed normally, researchers said.
More premature babies survive birth than ever before, but the challenge is helping them to survive beyond that and preventing illness or lifelong issues, such as lung ailments and cerebral palsy.
The research team estimates the device could save tens of thousands of lives yearly and improve the quality of life for premature infants.