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Two unborn babies have had their spines repaired by surgeons, weeks before they were born.
The operations were carried out by a team of 30 doctors at University College Hospital in London, and are the first of its kind to be performed in the UK, report agencies.
The babies had spina bifida, a condition where the neural tube develops incompletely and leads to gaps or defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine.
It is usually treated after birth, but later reparations are difficult to fix, as much of the damage is permanent by then.
During the 90-minute surgery carried out this summer, doctors cut an opening in the womb and then stitched together the baby’s gap in the spine.The procedure is risky and can cause premature labour, but researchers are exploring less invasive keyhole methods. “We put the mum on some drugs that help relax them, but there is still a risk,” said UCL Professor Anne David, who has worked on bringing the surgery to the UK for three years.
Both the Mum and babies are recovering well.
Previously, similar operations were only performed in the US, Belgium or Switzerland. “It’s fantastic,” said David. “Women now don’t have to travel out of the UK. They can have their family with them. There are less expenses.”