An illustration of a fetal lamb inside the “artificial womb” device, which mimics the conditions inside a pregnant animal.- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Scientists have created an “artificial womb” in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.
So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.
“We’ve been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model,” says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” Flake says.
Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.
“What we tried to do is develop a system that mimics the environment of the womb as closely as possible,” Flake says. “It’s basically an artificial womb.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has released new guidelines encouraging OB-GYNs and other birth practitioners to re-examine the necessity of various interventions that may not necessarily benefit low-risk moms.
The new committee opinion does not signal a dramatic shift in best practices for managing uncomplicated labors, but it is a clear acknowledgement from ACOG that technological interventions can often times interfere with a natural process rather than help it along.
“This committee opinion is the first one, to my knowledge, that specifically addresses low-risk patients,” author Dr. Jeffrey L. Ecker, chief of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Massachusetts General Hospital told The Huffington Post. “It says, very clearly, that there are some times when watchful waiting is appropriate. Just because we have the technology, doesn’t mean it has to be used in every patient.”
Many doctors and hospitals already embrace measures to limit intervention when appropriate, he said. But for others, this will likely shift the standard care.
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Pope Francis kisses a baby at the end of a special audience for Italy quake victims in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
When it comes to breastfeeding in church, Pope Francis has a simple message for moms: Go for it!
While celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, the pontiff encouraged mothers present at the service to breastfeed their babies.
“The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” the pope said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he added.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. During the ceremony on Sunday, the pope baptized 28 children in the Sistine Chapel. When several babies started crying at once, he reportedly joked, “the concert has begun” and later suggested that perhaps Jesus’ cries as a baby were the substance of his first “homily.”
Pope Francis has famously invited mothers to breastfeed at this same service in the past. In 2015, he addressed worshipers with babies: “You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.”
In a 2013 interview, he also said he believes women should feel comfortable feeding their babies whenever they’re hungry and feel no shame nursing in public.