The following comes from a March 31 Life News article by Sarah Zagorski:

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles have created the world’s first fully implantable micro-pacemaker for unborn children with congenial complete heart blocks. The medical journal, Heart Rhythm, revealed that the US Food & Drug Administration has designated the micro-pacemaker as a device for humanitarian use.

The Times of India reports that the micro-pacemaker has already been through pre-clinical testing by Children’s Hospital and the University of Southern California, and they plan to use it in the future. Gerald Loeb, a professor at the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC, said, “Building on our experience of using microfabrication techniques to create biomedical devices, we have developed a micro-pacemaker small enough to reside entirely within the fetus. This will allow the foetus to move freely without risk of dislodging the electrodes.”

Currently, every year in the United States 500 unborn children are affected by fetal heart block and could be candidates for the device.

In the past, all attempts to treat the condition with adult pacemakers have failed. However, now unborn babies with heart blockage may be able to benefit from the micro-pacemaker and get a better chance at survival. Ramen Chmait, the director of the CHLA-USC Institute for Maternal-Fetal Health said, “We now have a pacemaker that can be implanted in utero, potentially without harm to the fetus or the mom.”