The Artificial Womb moves forward

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A view of a fetus in an artificial womb, 1965.

Researchers successfully nurture extremely preterm lamb fetuses outside a natural womb. Photo: Fritz Goro

If you live for about 80 years, your nine months in the womb will represent less than 1% of your time on Earth. But those nine months represent a crucial period for growth and development.

Sometimes, though, babies are born before they get those nine full months in utero. And while the accepted protocol is to place premature infants in an artificial incubator — protecting the baby from infection and maintaining temperature and humidity — soon there may be better options.

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Inside the controversial new surgery to transplant human wombs

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Pioneering surgeons have made it possible to transplant a human uterus that can bear children, offering hope to millions of women who never thought they could give birth.

On September 4, 2014, in Gothenburg, Sweden, his 36-year-old expectant mother lay on an operating table, suffering from preeclampsia—a pregnancy complication associated with high blood pressure. The baby’s heartbeat showed signs of stress. Normally the woman’s doctors might have taken a wait-and-see approach, treating her with medication and hoping to give the nearly 32-week-old fetus time to grow to full term of about 40 weeks.

But this was no normal gestation. This was the world’s first human nurtured inside a transplanted uterus. He was the product of more than a decade of research. For years, no one had been sure he could exist in that womb—let alone be born. This was not a wait-and-see situation.

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The most futuristic predictions that came true in 2017

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The trouble with the future is that it never seems to arrive. That’s why we call it the future. We consequently have this bad habit of taking the present, and all the wondrous and horrific things it has to offer, for granted. As a reminder that we’re actually living in the future of a not-so-distant past, we present to you a list of the most futuristic things that happened in 2017.

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