Can AI Be The Perfect Midwife, Help Deliver Babies Better?

Image © 4th August 1946: A midwife puts a binder round a new born baby after a home delivery aided by the home help and watched by the mother. Original Publication: Picture Post - 4201 - A Baby Is Born At Home - pub. 1946 (Photo by Merlyn Severn/Picture Post/Getty Images)

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Original Publication: Getty Images

AI and healthcare are no longer strangers. In fact, according to a Markets & Markets report, the healthcare market is expected to grow to $36.1 billion by 2025. While the last two years saw AI-related applications around diagnostics, medical imaging and oncology, this time there ’s speculation about AI and its possible application in the delivery room. AI can change childbirth and make it unique. There’s a vital risk to the mother’s life during childbirth and AI-based applications can help detect biosignals beforehand and learn from the analysis.

In India, the maternal mortality ratio has reduced significantly and has come down to 130 deaths per 1 lakh live births. Though there’s a decrease in the ratio, there are many people who suffer blood loss and go through other medical issues during childbirth. AI is set to invade delivery rooms and a recent MIT research stated that AI and robotics can help patients and doctors analyse the problem beforehand and act upon in it.

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How AI Helps Deliver Better With Clinical Solutions

There are several companies that are developing systems that use machine-learning and AI as subsets to help innovate in childbirth. Perigen is one of them, the US-based tech company deals with fetal development and provides clinical solutions. The company has started an initiative called “AI can help”.

Under this initiative, the company aims to help pregnant women during delivery. Perigen’s AI-driven Periwatch Vigilance is an electronic fetal monitoring system which gives better maternal and foetal monitoring data reduces administrative work in monitoring and enhancing patient safety. In the US, it is estimated that 60% of maternal deaths are preventable.

Gauss Surgical, a med-tech company has also manufactured equipment which has machine learning capabilities and can detect danger before a human can. Triton, medical equipment can detect blood loss using AI. It has a special iPad based app which can monitor blood loss and measure its state. The machine captures blood loss collected by surgical sponges and suction canisters and helps in determining Haemoglobin levels after an operation and also during blood-transfusion.  

The MIT Experiment

Picture: Irish Times

The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) of MIT conducted various experiments on robots. The robot-assisted the nurses in a labour ward and also made decisions on where to move the patient and whom to assign for the C-section. AI is a well-thought technology, it teaches itself from its experiences. It also decides when not to interfere in the labour ward. The robots helped nurses in decision-making and only context-specific strategies were chosen. This was conducted in the year 2016. After which there have been several advances in the obstetrics field.

According to reports, the nurses gave good feedback about the robot and emphasised it could be used as an educational tool. The physician commended the bot and stated that the bot could help with reducing workload, giving algorithms to employees. In the experiment, out of 10 trials, 7 passed, yet three failed.

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Jignasa Sinha
Jignasa pursued her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and is currently a trainee journalist at IIJNM. Her mind is usually preoccupied with art, music, food and travel.

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