Claim: A Facebook user claims babies can be grown in a bag.
Babies cannot be grown in a bag as our findings show the biobag designed to help preterm babies survive has only been carried out on lambs.
About 15 million babies are born preterm (too early) every year and approximately one million children die each year due to complications from premature birth.
Preterm birth complications, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), are the leading cause of death among children under five years.
A Facebook user, Chief Yuma, shared a post with the claim that babies can be grown in bags. He claimed the technology has been used for many years.
“In the near future women will no longer have to carry their own baby through pregnancy. It can be grown in a bag. According to whistle blisters this technology has been used for many years,” part of the post reads.
Public health continues to be a major target for misinformation and it is important the right information is consumed by the public who make decisions daily regarding their health.
We conducted a keyword search which led to the concept of ectogenesis, a process of growing a baby outside the womb.
A form of this is what we have today as incubation, also known as partial ectogenesis. This happens when babies are transferred into an incubator in a neonatal ward to continue development.
Our research shows a team of researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia developed what is called a Biobag. This Biobag, developed to gestate sheep foetuses, replaces the placenta with an oxygenator plugged into a lamb’s umbilical cord. The bag is filled with an amniotic fluid replacement with which the lamb breathes and swallows.
This YouTube video on “recreating the womb: new hope for premature babies” shared five years ago by the hospital explains this process. It was, however, noted that this has only been done for lambs and not for humans.
Following this feat, there have been efforts to create this Biobag or artificial womb for humans to help preterm babies.
This 2020 article by the Guardian looked at the possibility of artificial wombs being the future for human pregnancy but so far, this is only a method that has not been carried out on humans. It is also important to note that this Biobag for lambs is not a substitute for pregnancy as the lamb was transferred from the womb of its mother.
A paediatrician at Cedar Crest Hospital Abuja, Alabi Olukayode, dismissed this as a long-standing speculation.
“I don’t think it is true, mere speculation. I have heard of these stories before I entered medical school. Though I didn’t bother to verify it, with the knowledge acquired, it turned out to be False,” he said.
Jeremiah Agim, a gynaecologist and senior registrar at the National Hospital Abuja, said he is not aware of such technology.
“I have no idea about this. If he means cloning then it’s a different thing altogether,” he said.
Another gynaecologist, Sunday Idoko, said he is aware of test tube babies but not this technology.
“In all honesty,I am just finding out about this technology. But it may be possible. In medicine, we never say never
“But we have had test tube babies etc in the past. This is simply the IVF we hear about. But here, the fertilisation takes place outside and implementation takes place in a human,” he added.
Babies cannot be grown in a bag as our findings show the Biobag designed to help preterm babies survive has only been carried out on lambs. While there are efforts to recreate this for humans, whether babies can be grown in this bag or any other type of bag is subject to further research and experimentation.