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This artificial intelligence company listens to the cries of infants to detect neurological disorders

Toronto: Can an infant’s cry determine whether he has an underlying neurological condition? Ubenwa, a company based in Montreal, Canada, claims to have developed precise AI-based algorithms for tracking crying activity, detecting acoustic biomarkers and predicting abnormalities, turning infant crying into diagnoses potentials.

The company’s first pilot project in the detection of neurological damage due to birth asphyxia demonstrated an improvement of approximately 40% compared to the most common physical examination at birth.

“Ubenwa is building a diagnostic tool that understands when a baby’s cry is actually a call for medical attention,” said Charles Onu, CEO and co-founder of Ubenwa.

“Ultimately, our goal is to be a translator for the sounds of baby crying, providing a non-invasive way to monitor medical conditions wherever you find a baby: delivery rooms, neonatal intensive care units and pediatrics, nurseries and at home,” he said. said in a statement Monday evening.

For now, the AI-powered software only identifies early signs of birth asphyxia and can potentially pinpoint learning milestones based on crying triggers.

Ubenwa announced $2.5 million (US) pre-seed funding led by AI-focused Radical Ventures and AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio.

Spinning off from Mila, the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, Ubenwa is working with the Montreal Children’s Hospital and pediatric hospital networks around the world to create a platform of sound-based diagnostic tools, combining research breakthrough on AI and clinical knowledge.

“AI is well suited to derive information from the sound signature of a baby’s cry,” said Yoshua Bengio, the AI ​​pioneer who runs Mila.

“UN’s cutting-edge research into identifying biomarkers in baby cry sounds offers the promise of unlocking our understanding of what lies behind a baby’s cry.”

For clinicians and parents, an infant’s cry is difficult to diagnose.

Babies cry for many reasons such as when they are hungry, exhausted or have colic.

But a baby’s crying can also indicate that more urgent care is needed, and late diagnosis can lead to serious and lasting effects or death.

“Cry analysis has the potential to provide critical information to identify babies with progressive brain problems,” said Dr. Guilherme Sant’Anna, neonatologist at Montreal Children’s Hospital and professor at McGill University. .

“Backed by a strong clinical foundation, Ubenwa has developed a proprietary innovation for an important and underserved market,” added Sanjana Basu, an investor at Radical Ventures who joins Ubenwa’s board of directors.

Deciphering a baby’s cry using machine learning can open up a range of possibilities in the clinical and consumer pediatrics market, where demand for better digital products is only growing, he said. -she adds.