Inside Your Health: New technology for premature babies

Inside Your Health – help for preemies

Roughly 1 in 10 infants are born prematurely each year.

More than half a million babies are born early every year, meaning one in every 10 infants is born preterm — before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS anchor Leah McClean sat down with KSTP health expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou to discuss new technology that may change the future for preemies and their families.

A baby is considered preterm when born before 37 weeks in the womb while premature infants are babies born before 28 weeks in the womb, said Dr. Georgiou, adding that infants born prematurely have a 75% chance of survival.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a new technology from researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that acts as an artificial womb. The device recreates the placenta and amniotic fluid that a baby requires to develop.

So far, all of the research has been done on lambs, which resemble human fetuses to a degree, said Dr. Georgiou. The lambs were able to stay in the artificial womb for three to four weeks, which experts say is promising.

The goal is not to place the baby back in the womb or keep a premature baby developing up until 40 weeks, but to get them through the period of time when fetuses can be unstable, said Dr. Georgiou.

The FDA is considering the new technology on Tuesday. Officials from the FDA say additional research is necessary before testing with humans can continue.