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Simulating mom's womb in research to help earliest preemies

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In this photo provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, fetal physiologist Marcus G. Davey of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who helped design the artificial womb system. He is shown near giant tanks holding a liquid designed to simulate amniotic fluid. Researchers are creating an artificial womb to improve care for extremely premature babies, and animal testing suggests the first-of-its-kind watery incubation so closely mimics mom that it just might work. (Ed Cunicelli/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia via AP)

BC-US-MED--Preemies-Artificial Womb

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Researchers are creating an artificial womb to improve care for extremely premature babies - and animal testing suggests the first-of-its-kind watery incubation so closely mimics mom that it just might work.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia aims to give the tiniest preemies a few more weeks cocooned in a womb-like environment so their lungs have more time to develop. It's a gentler solution than today's standard incubators, where babies weighing as little as a pound are hooked to ventilators.

The researchers created a fluid-filled container simulating the amniotic fluid in mom's uterus, and attached a mechanical placenta that keeps blood oxygenated.

In first-stage testing, extremely premature lambs grew apparently normally inside the system for three to four weeks. Human testing still is several years away.

The study was in Nature Communications.

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4/25/2017 8:47:16 AM (GMT -7:00)

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