Every year, 800.000 babies are born extremely preterm (<28 weeks of age) worldwide. The Artificial womb project aims to develop a novel, alternative environment, more similar to the mother’s womb.
Premature birth affects approximately 1 in 10 babies worldwide
Pretermn Infants born between 24 and 35 weeks are currently transferred to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), to support their heart and lung development. For extremely premature infants (<28 weeks), however, exposure to air is very harsh on their organs and may lead to long-term cardiac, neurological and metabolic problems or complications in breathing. Despite advances in medicine and technology, current care in the NICU is a far from optimal substitute for the protective environment of the natural maternal womb.
Perinatal Life Support | Artificial womb
The perinatal life support (PLS) project researchers are working on a solution for this by designing a new environment for premature babies similar to that of the maternal womb. In the PLS solution, a baby is transferred to a new environment, called a perinatal life support system, to ease the transition to newborn life. In this “artificial womb”, the infant would be provided with a supply of oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord and an artificial placenta. This environment allows organs to mature and develop more naturally.