Artificial wombs

Extremely premature birth is the leading cause of infant death.

Once a baby is removed from its mother’s womb, you cannot put it back in.

In developed countries, premature babies usually survive because of the level of care we can give them, but there are often problems – under-developed lungs,bleeding on the brain, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, among others.

And those are just the short-term issues. Long-term issues include  cerebral palsy, impaired cognition, problems with the eyes, ears and teeth, as well as sudden death syndrome.

Scientists recently developed a “bio-bag” which emulates the womb and placenta. While it was so far only been shown to work on preterm lambs, the results are successful, with minimal difference between bio-bag lambs and full-term lambs. Human tests are now feasible.

There are some consequences that this development will have on human life expectancy, apart from the obvious improvement in infant mortality and the lowering of long-term effects as well in those infants.

Imagine you are a pregnant woman and you are sick. Let’s say it’s cancer. You have a choice between taking chemotherapy and possibly killing your unborn child, or waiting for the birth and possibly starting treatment too late, killing yourself and leaving the child mother-less.

What if your doctors offered you the choice of removing the unborn child from your womb and placing it in an artificial womb where it will grow perfectly well until birth, and then you could get your own treatment? Both of you then go on to live happily ever after.