UK AI researchers testing tool to detect stillbirths

The algorithm can detect anomalies in ultrasounds of placentas in real time

Ben Wodecki

March 16, 2022

1 Min Read

The algorithm can detect anomalies in ultrasounds of placentas in real time

A new AI-based scanning tool from British scientists aims to prevent adverse occurrences in pregnancy.

Perspectum, an Oxford University spin-out company is developing the AI technology that analyzes ultrasounds of a women’s placenta to identify potential stillbirths or pre-eclampsia complications.

The fully automated system analyzes the placenta’s volume, the blood vessels supplying it and urine blood supply to provide medical professionals with the results of a patient’s placenta in real time.

Issues like stillbirth – where the baby dies in the womb - are linked to issues stemming from the placenta which links the mother's blood supply to the fetus.

“Many studies have shown that if you have a small placenta in the first trimester, you will have a small placenta at term, and a small placenta makes a small baby,” Prof. Sally Collins, medical lead for women’s health at Perspectum told The Guardian.

“If your placenta is small, and has a normal supply of blood vessels (vascularity), it can be an indication of fetal growth restriction. If it is small with low vascularity, you potentially get a small baby and preeclampsia.”

A new trial was launched this week to determine whether the tool can be integrated into existing NHS (National Health Service) algorithms. Around 4,000 women will be offered a placental ultrasound at their 12-week appointment who will then receive a follow-up to judge the algorithm's predictions.

About the Authors

Ben Wodecki

Assistant Editor

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