Tokyo researchers have successfully taken goat fetuses and put them in synthetic wombs for continued gestation!
The fetuses have stayed in the environment for up to three weeks, but Yoshinori Kuwabara, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Juntendo University in Tokyo, has said that this can be extended or applied to human beings!
“Ectogenesis” was a term created by British scientist J. B. S. Haldane in 1924. He believed that, by 2074, human pregnancy would be obsolete and artificial wombs would be the norm.
Although researchers are decades away from creating technology that would allow a human fetus to gestate in an artificial womb, Haldane may not have been very off in his prediction.
Of course, many people are already throwing out their concerns with this prospect.
Most complaints have been that if women’s wombs are obsolete than will they soon be, too? Considering we have yet to replicate human ova, I think we’re in the clear. However, my main concern is the lack of time gestating in a living breathing human, and the complications for the human who started out life in an artificial womb.
One of the positives that come out of this research is that this may be a way to care for preemie babies in the future. Micro-preemies could potentially be placed directly from a human womb to an artificial womb if the pregnancy is ending early due to complications. This could be especially beneficial for lung development in babies under 30 weeks.
What does not sit well with me is using the artificial womb for the entire duration of a pregnancy. As more non-human mammal research is done with this project, I’m sure we will find out the psychological effects, if any, these artificially gestated animals may be facing once they are born and reach maturity.
If I had to take a guess now, I would bet there will be some problems. During gestation we hear the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat, we know the voices of our parents and those who are around us during this time. It isn’t a detached process. That is another huge misconception about adoption. Children adopted at birth go through a grieving process. A connection has been made. There is something important about the mother-child connection in the womb, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
What do you think?