BOSTON, October 11, 2001 ( – While amniocentesis has until now been used mainly as a method to detect disorders within developing unborn children with abortion as an inviting option if a problem is detected, a new procedure has heralded hope that the procedure can be life-affirming. New Scientist magazine reports that researchers in Boston have found early-stage stem cells floating in the amniotic fluid of a pregnant woman.

If scans suggest a baby may have defects, doctors could isolate cells from this fluid for later surgery. The stem cells could be grown into tissue to correct “body wall defects” such as a hole in the abdomen or chest – which affect one in 5,000 babies. The technique has already been used to repair body wall defects in lambs.

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