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IIT Madras researchers develop AI model to determine the age of a foetus

IIT Madras researchers develop AI model to determine the age of a foetus

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) have developed the first India-specific artificial intelligence (AI) model to determine the age of a foetus in a pregnant woman in the second and third trimesters precisely.

This was done in association with the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad, as part of the “Interdisciplinary Group for Advanced Research on Birth Outcomes – DBT India Initiative” (GARBH-Ini) programme. Accurate ‘Gestational Age’ (GA) is necessary for the appropriate care of pregnant women and for determining precise delivery dates. Called “Garbhini-GA2”, this is the first late-trimester GA estimation model to be developed and validated using Indian population data.

Currently, the age of a foetus (Gestational age or GA) is determined using a formula developed for the Western population. They are likely to be erroneous when applied in the later part of pregnancy due to variations in the growth of the foetus in the Indian population. The newly developed ‘Garbhini-GA2’ accurately estimates the age of a foetus for the Indian population, reducing error by almost three times. This GA model can improve the care delivered by obstetricians and neonatologists, thus reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in India.

Welcoming this research, Rajesh Gokhale, secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, said, “GARBH-Ini is a flagship programme of DBT, and the development of these population-specific models for estimating gestational age is a commendable outcome. These models are being validated across the country.”

This research was undertaken by Himanshu Sinha, associate professor, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, Shinjini Bhatnagar, the principal investigator of the GARBH-Ini programme and a distinguished professor at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), and other researchers. The findings were published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Lancet Regional Health Southeast Asia.

The BRIC-THSTI is an institute under the Biotechnology Research and Innovation Council (BRIC), Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. The institute acts as a catalyst to translate fundamental discoveries by building rigorous clinical research capacity and enabling faster transition of discoveries from bench to bedside.

Highlighting the importance of this study, Sinha, who is also a coordinator at the Centre for Integrative Biology and Systems Medicine, IIT Madras, and who led the data science work for this research, said, “IIT Madras has been contributing towards solving healthcare problems at the grassroots and local level with the aim of enhancing public health in India. To this end, working with our clinical partner, THSTI, we are utilising advanced data science and AI/ML techniques to build tools to predict unfavourable birth outcomes. The first step towards this is to develop accurate GA models that perform significantly better than currently used models designed using Western populations.”

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