By Linus Chunn
Pediatricians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have developed a system that simulates the womb to prevent illnesses for premature babies.
According to USA Today, researchers call the treatment a Biobag. The Biobag is a system that allows the premature baby to continue developing by remaining in a womb-like environment after it is born.
The Biobag is an inert plastic container, filled with electrolyte fluid that acts as a substitute for amniotic fluid that is found regularly in the uterus bathing the baby while providing a way to keep the blood flow and a steady exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
After the premature baby is born, he/she is placed within the Biobag to continue to develop similar to how they would in the their mothers’ wombs. The researchers deliver the blood exchange through a pump system.
However, this presents difficulties, as if the pressure from the pump becomes too powerful, it will damage the heart of the baby. To overcome that problem, the research team developed a pump that relies on the heartbeat of the baby instead of outer sources.
According to The Verge, the Biobag has currently only been tested on lambs. The lambs developed in the Biobags were no different from those that were delivered via cesarean section. The researchers are hoping for human trials in about three years.
Alan Flake, fetal and pediatric surgeon and head of the CHOP research team stated to The Verge, “I think it’s just an amazing thing to sit there and watch the fetus on this support acting like it normally acts in the womb.”