Weeks before they even breathed their first breath, two babies had their spinal cord surgically repaired by surgeons at the first operations of their kind in the UK.
The spina bifida operations were successfully performed by a team at the University Hospital in London this summer on two babies while they were still in the womb.
Spina bifida is usually treated postpartum, but research shows that spine recovery can stop spinal fluid loss earlier and lead to better long-term health and mobility
A team of 30 performed the two surgeries, coordinated by UCL professor Anne David, who for three years worked to bring the procedure to patients in the UK. She said that mothers had to travel to the US, Belgium or Switzerland for the procedure.
"It's fantastic, women do not have to leave the UK right now," David said. "You can have your family with you, there are less costs, so all good things."
The University of London (UCLH) and Great Ormond Street surgical team traveled to Belgium to train at a facility in Leuven where more when 40 operations were performed.
Spina bifida is a disease that develops during pregnancy when the bones of the spine are not properly formed. This creates a gap that leaves the spinal cord unprotected. It can cause a baby's spinal fluid to leak and impair brain development, possibly leading to long-term health and mobility problems.
More than 200 children are born every year in the United Kingdom with Spina bifida, according to the charity Shine. 1
Children in the US study were also more independent after surgery, David said.
"There were some children who had grown up after fetal surgery who went and you would not expect them to go if they had not gone I did not have it," she said. "Therefore, it's important to have patients here In the UK, surgery is being offered. "
During the procedure, the uterus is cut at a precise location to access the baby's spine and to close the spinal gap Bifida, which is about 90 minutes The risk of premature labor is high, but less invasive keyhole methods are under investigation.
"We have given the mother some medications to help her relax, but there is still a risk," David said said that a "fetoscopic" approach was developed in the hope of further minimizing maternal complications.
Operations are re-entered for appropriate patients The Center for Prenatal Therapy at UCLH and Great Ormond Street provided £ 450,000 from the hospital's charities.
"These vital resources have prepared training for the surgical team and will fund surgery for the first 10 patients," said UCLH's Clinical Director for Women's Health, Prof Donald Peebles.
Frankie Lavis from Plymouth was the first British baby to undergo surgery in Belgium in 2013.