[extropy-chat] "Artificial" Womb

George Dvorsky george at betterhumans.com
Thu Oct 19 19:50:13 UTC 2006

A B wrote:
> Does this sound about right, or am I grossly 
> oversimplifying things?

You're oversimplifying.

First, all fetus's require nutrients from the mother's blood stream. 
This means that an artificial womb would somehow have to duplicate the 
mother's blood exactly. Moreover, the mother's blood changes hour to 
hour depending on her intake; pregnant women have unpredictable food 
cravings and aversions during pregnancy -- all of which are evolutionary 
adaptations that help in the gestational process. Moreover, infants 
require motion, tactile stimulation (e.g. expectant mothers rub their 
bellies), and auditory and even visual stimulation.

After child birth, babies need to breastfeed. Pregnancy prepares the 
mother's body physically and hormonally to nuture infants outside of the 
womb. Newborns require skin-to-skin contact that helps in bonding and 
perceptual development. And no artificial baby milk has come even close 
to matching mother's milk. There is more than just the ideal proportion 
of proteins, fats (including long-chain polyunsaturated lipids that are 
essential for optimal neurodevelopment), and carbohydrates, vitamins, 
and minerals present in breastmilk that change even during one feed; 
breastmilk also contains human-specific immune factors, growth factors, 
anti-bacterial agents, anti-viral properties, anti-fungal properties, 
and anti-inflammatory properties.

Also, the health risks associated with not bearing children or lactating 
must be weighed against the potential health benefits to a woman for not 
bearing children. Specifically, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers are 
significantly lower for women who have born and breastfed children.


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