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An artificial womb is actually a hypothetical device that would allow for external pregnancy. Ectogenesis is a developing technology that will permit babies to be fully-grown unnaturally outside of womb. For now it sounds like a fantasy but might be a reality in a decade's time.
The science is in large part driven by the high, and steadily rising, number of babies born preterm or before thirty-seven weeks of gestation. As per the reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten babies is born prematurely in the US. According to the World Health Organization, that very same statistic is true globally, and therefore the United States is one in all the ten countries with the highest number of preterm births. Infection, placenta issues, or genetic issues often cause premature births. However, the actual cause is still unknown.
Highly preterm babies, those born before twenty-eight weeks of gestation, have extremely low survival rate. In the United States, preterm births are linked to 17% of infant deaths in recent years, whereas those babies that do survive have a high probability of major complications like breathing problems, development delays, cerebral palsy and vision problems.
Now scientists have found a way to fight this problem. According to them, such babies can be put into an artificial womb-like environment to complete their gestation. However, it is still in theories and not practically admired.
A group of scientists led by Dr. Alan Flake at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was in a position to support the gestation of fetal lambs. These lambs were around hundred to hundred twenty days in their gestation and were put in an artificial womb. Since lamb pregnancies are shorter than human pregnancies, these fetal lambs were developmentally equivalent to a human fetus at around twenty-two to twenty-four weeks of gestation.
What is Artificial Womb and its Benefits
It is actually a hypothetical device that would be designed to allow for external pregnancy. It would be done by growing a fetus outside the body of an organism. The artificial womb or the artificial uterus will have many applications as a replacement organ. The benefits associated with artificial womb are:
- There are many cases where women with certain health conditions or older women put their lives in danger while delivering. Therefore, artificial womb will work in their favor.
- It will also be a better alternative for commercial surrogacy. Many people find surrogacy as exploitative and very expensive.
- Artificial womb will also give equality to men and women in the sense that they do not need to be together just for a child.
- Artificial Uterus will serve women, trans-women, and male same-sex couples equally.
- After the creation of artificial womb, women will feel free from the dangers faced in pregnancy. It will also create an equal distribution of labor, as women will be able to work throughout gestation. Men will also be able to have a child without the need of a woman.
- Artificial womb may be safer than normal womb, as it will reduce the risks of diseases, accidents, drugs, alcohol, pollutants, and inadequate nutrition.
- It can also end abortion debate. Couples or the mother of the baby can move it to the artificial womb and put up for adoption.
However, after the development of such a technique, entirely new ethical dilemmas will come in front of us. Yet it will be an achievement because it can offer solutions to the inequalities that we face today.
How Artificial Wombs Will Work
An artificial uterus is also called as exowomb. Its functions will include providing nutrients and oxygen to nurture a fetus, as well as disposing waste material. The scope of an artificial uterus may also include the functions provided by the placenta.
The mechanism involved in the working of the artificial wombs will be very complicated. The fetus will be placed in what the scientists call a "bio bag" of replenished synthetic amniotic fluid. They will be connected through the umbilical cords to a life support machine outside of the bag that will act just like the mother's placenta. It will provide the fetus with oxygen and nutrition while also removing carbon dioxide. The artificial wombs will be placed in a dark, warm room where sounds of a mother's heartbeat will be played. The sealed environment of the artificial womb will help to keep out infections. However, it would be very difficult to understand such a complex mechanism in just theoretical form.
Are Artificial Wombs Controversial?
The benefits of providing babies born prematurely, the chance to continue their gestation in safe and healthy surroundings that as closely resembles a biological womb are clear. However, extending the artificial womb on the far side, this purpose raises very important questions about how we will have to update our laws and medical ethics standards to stay up with the technology.
For example, if gestation may be done entirely or maybe outside of a biological uterus, this technology might open up choices to anyone looking for reproductive assistance, including older people, infertile couples and transgender people. Artificial wombs might offer environments free of medication and fine-tune to specific temperatures, movement, sounds, and balanced diets. Pregnancy is additionally inherently risky and a more equitable division of parenting roles that might be inspired by gestation outside of uterus sounds fascinating.
However, the fact is that we are still unaware of what kind of womb environments is ideal. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that there are many unknown facts and uncertainties that can affect a fetus starting from prescribed medications to types of exercise. It is possibly because of the complicated ethics of performing any tests on pregnant women.
There are also more difficult questions related with artificial wombs like who would manage the technology and who decides how they are used and for whom. Another question of what does extending gestation outside of the body mean for abortion laws that are connected to fetal viability would also arise. Although asking such questions will not stop the revolution of this technology, the truth of complete Ectogenesis still remains mysterious and fills us with curiosity.
Fetal lambs are famed to be somewhat similar in their development stage of human fetuses. However, the bio bags used in the lamb study would need important adaptations to be suitable for human fetuses. The earliest stages of fetus development are still complicated and are not entirely understood; therefore extending this technology to even earlier stages of gestation is more of an inspiration and achievement. Another exciting advancement in the science of birth in 2017 was the birth of the first baby in the United States from a transplanted uterus. Such transplants are supposed to be temporary. Such advancements offer vital choices for would-be parents when ways that are more traditional fail.
Hope this article gave you all the information about “Artificial womb and how can it be converted into reality”. Follow elawoman.com to get all the latest updates regarding any infertility treatment, IVF, IUI, and Surrogacy. You can also call on the given number to book an appointment or get further details- +917899912611.
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