University College Cork (Ireland) researchers developing AI technology to detect brain injury in newborns

  • March 08, 2022

Researchers at University College Cork (UCC) are leading an international team of scientists in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to detect brain injuries in newborns.  To help minimize the risk of the life-long consequences of neonatal brain injury, researchers from the INFANT research center at UCC are leading the international team of experts to develop an algorithm that will allow clinicians to intervene quickly to help prevent brain injury.

The project, AI-4-NICU, aims to accelerate the design of prototypes that could be deployed in neonatal units.  Five (5) in every 1,000 babies born each year have a condition linked to a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen.  For premature babies, poor heart ,and lung function can cause brain damage and can have potentially devastating outcomes such as death, cerebral palsy, and delayed development.

Researchers from 14 different European countries will work on the multidisciplinary project, which will build on existing technologies, such as devices that can measure brain waves.  They will develop, test, and compare algorithms with the hopes that these will act as decision-support tools that can be used within neonatal intensive care units.  Project Lead Dr John O’Toole said early diagnosis is essential in helping to minimize the risk of a brain injury.  “But monitoring the tiny brain of an infant in an intensive care ward is challenging,” he explained.  “It can be difficult and slow to interpret the complex brain-wave patterns that indicate signs of injury.

The project consists of two strands, the first being to create a common infrastructure for the AI tools.  The second is to build human capacity in this area. While there is already a lot of work and internationally on developing such AI systems, AI-4-NICU aims to further build on this by connecting experts with the goal of progressing these tools towards clinical adoption.

Funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, the UCC led research team will first develop the tools necessary to acquire, pool, share and manage neurophysiological data sets.

REFERENCE:  Irish Examiner; 07 NOV 2021; Maeve Lee

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