Finnish researchers develop AI software to assess the maturity of infant’s brain

The software will help professionals develop plans for the ‘best possible care’ for a preterm infant.

[Helsinki, Finland] Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland have developed a software based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can assess the maturity of a preterm infant’s brain from an EEG.

The research was published in the Scientific Reports journal and the method is thought to be the first brain maturity assessment system based on an EEG.

Professor Sampsa Vanhatalo, lead of the project, said the method can help them follow the ‘most crucial development’ part of a preterm infant during and after intensive care:

“We currently track the development of an infant’s weight, height and head circumference with growth charts.

“EEG monitoring combined with automatic analysis provides a practical tool for the monitoring of the neurological development of preterm infants and generates information which will help plan the best possible care for the individual child.”

In the 1980s, researchers found that early problems in a baby’s health can result in slower brain development during the first few months.

Professionals can evaluate the way the brain of a preterm infant develops through EEG sensors placed on an infant’s head.

However, Prof Vanhatalo said analysing EEG data is quite ‘slow’ as it requires ‘special expertise’ from a clinician.

“This problem may be solved reliably and globally by using automatic analysis as part of the EEG device,” she added.

The new AI software has been developed by Nathan Stevenson, an engineer working closely with Prof Vanhatalo at the university, using what has been described as an ‘exceptionally extensive and well-controlled set’ of EEG data from preterm infants from a research group at the Medical University of Vienna.

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