We are probably going to create colonies on Mars in few decades or centuries, so which steps have been taken by NASA or other space agencies to find out if child birth is possible in a lower gravity than Earth's?


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Mammal experiments have shown that zero gravity does not affect fetuses in the late stage of gestation. http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/physics/153-people-in-astronomy/space-exploration-and-astronauts/the-future-of-human-spaceflight/960-can-a-human-give-birth-in-space-intermediate

Gravity-friendly birthing postures (e.g. kneeling or squatting) are common in many countries, but most deliveries in the USA have the mother flat on her back with legs up. Gravity is at best neutral to the process, if not an impediment. Babies continue to be born nonetheless.

The main health concerns for space travel, regardless of age, are atrophy from long term low gravity and cellular damage from increased radiation exposure.

  • $\begingroup$ During the shuttle era Nasa few an experiment where they took a number of fertilized frog eggs into zero G. All (most?) of them failed to develop into healthy embryos. There've not been any follow studies that I'm aware of, and frogs are particularly sensitive to chemical mutagens (if this is due to a lack of error detection/repair it could be relevant to the 0g problem) but it suggests that even if the end phase is doable, the startup might not be. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @DanNeely It has happened, but only with nematodes. See space.stackexchange.com/a/4523/58 and space.stackexchange.com/a/4522/58. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkS. As I said in one of those answers, the nematodes observed in space are not ovoviviparous, and thus did not give birth to live young. They laid eggs. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 16:56

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