Prenatal medicine in extremely preterm infants raises important medical and ethical dilemmas. Among the former, possibly the most important is to support their survival with new therapeutic measures. In this sense we sateted in recent articles that “The new possibilities for survival in extremely preterm infants—who are surviving in ever-increasing proportions, are more premature at birth and have fewer sequelae—make it necessary to review the protocols for medical care in babies born at 24 weeks of gestation or earlier, who are neglected today in many cases” (Read HERE).
Each year, more than 1 million premature babies die worldwide (see HERE), despite significant advances in treatment, as those born at week 21 to 24 of pregnancy have a significant risk of death or serious medical problems if they survive.
Sucesfull results in extremely preterm sheep open a new horizon that it opens up for preterm babies therapies
In an article published last July in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the authors report the results of the first time use of an artificial placenta in sheep to treat extremely preterm animals. The study included 8 animals with gestational age 95 days, which is equivalent to 24 weeks in human fetuses.
Of the 8 animals, 7 (87.5%) were maintained in good health beyond 120 hours, which was the objective that had been established to conclude that the treatment was successful.
Clearly these previous experiments are in animals, but as the authors say “the data generated by this study may inform a treatment option to improve outcomes for extremely preterm infants”.
As the work has been conducted in animals, it presents no objective bioethical difficulties, and the horizon that it opens up is undoubtedly very hopeful for a problem that, as already mentioned, presents unquestionable ethical and medical concerns.