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‘Plastic Bag’ Womb Could Help Keep Premature Babies Alive

A groundbreaking discovery working with lambs uses an artificial womb to reproduce the environment of the uterus and replace the function of the placenta. As reported by CNN Health, scientists hope to one day extend the plastic bag-like womb’s use to humans, in an effort to give life support to premature infants.

It seems like almost every day we hear what sounds like science fiction coming to life — for example, just a few weeks ago scientists announced they’d created a human-pig hybrid by injecting days-old pig embryos with human pluripotent stem cells — so it’s not surprising that artificial wombs are also in the works.

While researchers’ long-term goals of works like this are to improve the overall human condition, serious ethical concerns come with these ideas. I suppose it’s not possible to stop this research, but I do believe there are ways to not have to need it in the first place, beginning with preterm births.

It’s nothing short of tragic for a baby to be born before it’s time, as preterm birth is the greatest factor leading to infant death. If preterm babies live, they also can face lifelong issues from breathing problems to developmental delays and more. There are many postulations as to what causes preterm birth, but it is known that one factor may be low maternal levels of vitamin D.

In fact, studies show that women with vitamin D levels of 40 ng/mL or higher had a 57 percent lower risk of preterm birth compared to those with levels of 20 ng/mL or less. That’s why vitamin D screening is key while you’re pregnant, as this is the only way to determine whether you might be deficient or not, and regular testing is important to make sure whatever dosage of vitamin D you're taking is sufficient to reach clinically relevant levels.
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