AI monitors, determines age of preterm infant brain

Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital have developed artificial intelligence (AI) software capable of measuring EEG signals in preterm infants to estimate the brain's functional maturity, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

One in 10 live births occur prematurely, interrupting the late pregnancy development of the fetus’s brain. In this study, researchers utilized AI to make more precise evaluations of the development of an infant’s brain and monitor its progression.

"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," said Sampsa Vanhatalo from the University of Helsinki, who led the research. "This method gives us a first-time opportunity to track the most crucial development of a preterm infant, the functional maturation of the brain, both during and after intensive care."

The analysis software used a large amount of data on EEG measurement from preterm infants, collected from the Medical University of Vienna. Once trained, the software was able to calculate computational features from each measurement without intervention. Along with a machine algorithm, the software was able to identify the EEG age of the infant in 80 percent of cases.