Use Of AI To Screen Newborns To Detect Genetic Disorders

Ours is a technologically advanced world. We are living in an age where rapid signs of progress in technology are taking the world by storm. One of such many new inventions is what we are going to talk about here.


The artificial intelligence (AI) has been in use now in different forms and in different locations. However, scholars in China appear to have invented a new creative way of using AI. This time, they are purporting to use artificial intelligence on newborn babies. In our last article, we also shared about AI and Human Rights.

Use of AI to Screen Newborns to Detect Genetic Disorders

The intent behind this is said to be the detection of any genetic disorders in the newborns. As of now, it is quite a challenge to determine whether or not a newborn has any genetic problems. However, scientists expect to be able to get over this uncertainty soon. For the first time in history, the AI has found use in detecting disorders in the newborns.

According to Chinese researchers, they will be running a facial scan on newborns to detect the presence of any genetic disorder. This would be a new step towards diagnosing more than 100 types of disorders with distinguishable facial features.


In the recent news, we get to learn about the development that Chinese scholars may be credited with. They appear to have successfully developed an AI-powered software that will be screening newborns to detect the presence or otherwise of any genetic disorders in them through a facial scan.

Researchers from Shanghai Children’s Medical Centre teamed with researchers from the Shanghai Pediatric Centre. They claimed that the new assistive diagnosis tool, which is being described as the first-of-its-kind, is capable of detecting over 100 types of genetic disorders. It is worth mentioning these disorders are ones that have distinctive facial features. These researchers claimed that AI-backed equipment might be useful for initial screening which might help accurately diagnose the disorder, if any, in newborns.


Babies born with CdLS have certain facial features. For example, they often have thin eyebrows, meeting at the midline, long eyelashes, downturned thin, low-set ears, etc. Children that have Down syndrome often have small white spots in their eyes.

Their new tool which is deep learning algorithm-enables will lend effective help in reviewing the past medical records for all different types of facial profile patterns. The data so recovered will then be used in the diagnosis of new cases.

This should be news if you didn’t know before, that this software has begun to be used. Currently, it is being trial-run in Shanghai. Pediatricians take pictures of patients for screening purposes. They are then uploaded and submitted onto the software. These photographs are then analyzed and studied for the presence of any possible disorder. Keep in mind that only those children are photographed that are under any suspicion of having a genetic disorder. As soon as their pictures are entered into the record of the software, its system begins analyzing. It is after the completion of this analysis that a report is generated.

This report provides all the details that doctors need to know to be certain whether or not a baby has this disorder. The benefit of this software is that it only tells you whether or not there is a genetic disorder but it also diagnoses the type of disorder there is. In this sense, this tool is incredibly helpful and supportive.

Uses And Advantages

It goes without saying that this is a highly innovative and useful application of AI in the field of medicine. As far as China is concerned, the diagnosis and timely detection of the disorder happens to be one of the most advantageous healthcare applications of artificial intelligence.

Why this seems significant is that despite being the world’s second-biggest economy, next only to the U.S.A, China faces a severe shortage of medical and healthcare resources. In all of the country’s major hospitals and medical centers, one finds long waiting queues.

In addition to detecting genetic disorders, the AI-powered tool has also found some other helpful uses too. For example, it is being used nationwide to ascertain when a flu outbreak might occur. It has been under use for checking chronic diseases and also to diagnose the possible presence of the cancerous cell.


As much as the invention is important, no less worthwhile is the timing it has been introduced. This fresh advancement in employing AI and facial recognition technology for healthcare purposes has come at a point when the Trump Administration has already placed eight leading Chinese AI companies to its trade blacklist. The reason for the blacklisting has been said to be China’s persecution of Uygur religious minorities in Xinjiang.

Regardless of the fact what this bans means, it is for sure that Chinese technology progress will continue. Encouraged by the recent developments, a number of other companies have now stepped into the game. They are now working on new projects and looking for ways to make progress in using the AI for healthcare.

A few months earlier in July, Ping An Insurance launched AI-supported medical support equipment called Ask Bob. This is a highly useful medical decision support tool that is fully capable of giving accurate diagnosis and treatment suggestions for over 1500 ailments! Ping An is a famous Chinese conglomerate. However, it was not China where this tool was introduced in the beginning. In collaboration with SingHealth and the National University Health System, AskBob had been launched in Singapore.


As can be seen, the competition to employ AI-backed technologies in the medical sector is undergoing on a global level.

Other than China, the U.S is also making considerable developments in the field. According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, they are expecting these new AI technologies to revolutionize the healthcare systems as they provide new and meaningful insights using the huge amount of data that is produced on a daily basis.

It is hoped that this AI-enabled tool will be used in high-value applications that might include, but not limited to, early disease detection, identifying fresh observations as well as developing more personalized therapeutics.


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