News Release 

Using big data to save babies

Machine learning could detect lung disorder in preemies better than traditional diagnostics

Experimental Biology

Research News

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IMAGE: Gaston Ofman, MD, The University of Oklahoma Health Science Center view more 

Credit: Gaston Ofman

Rockville, Md. (April 27, 2021)--Although bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)--a chronic lung disease affecting newborns--is the most common complication of preterm birth, it remains difficult to diagnose and treat. Researchers from Fundación INFANT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, hope to address these difficulties using machine learning to inform the clinical care of preemies with BPD. The team will present their work virtually at the American Physiological Society's (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2021.

BPD affects between 20% and 40% of all infants with birthweight below 3 pounds, 4 ounces (1,500 grams). It usually subsides by age five but can extend into adulthood. Infants with BPD face prolonged hospitalization and are at risk of developmental delays and heart failure.

The research team presented an algorithm with a large data set of longitudinal clinical information for preterm infants, which the computer divided into three clusters. They then presented the trained algorithm with a second data set with comparable demographic characteristics. In this set, the computer was able to anticipate comorbidities and rehospitalizations better than the application of standard BPD diagnostic categories.

By more accurately aligning which biometrics correspond to different degrees of disease severity, these findings could enable better understanding of the underlying causes of BPD. They could also help clinicians diagnose BPD earlier and more precisely, allowing for personalized treatments.

Corresponding author Gaston Ofman, MD, says the next step is "to implement our analysis in real time and guide health care workers in their day-to-day care of preterm babies."

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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, or to request the abstract, "Machine learning discovery of lung disease trajectories in premature infants," please contact the APS Communications Office or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in the APS Newsroom.

About Experimental Biology 2021

Experimental Biology is the annual meeting of five societies that explores the latest research in physiology, anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology and pharmacology. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for global exchange among scientists who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

About the American Physiological Society

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.

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