A Nigerian startup, Ubenwa, has invented an artificial intelligence (AI) system that analyses a baby’s cry to give warning signs of birth asphyxia.

Ubenwa, which means “baby’s cry”, helps parents and caregivers detect birth asphyxia earlier, without having to wait on doctors.

Birth asphyxia happens when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth.

It is the third leading killer of infants worldwide.

Ubenwa, an Android app, takes an infant’s cry as input, analyses the amplitude and frequency patterns of the cry and provides instant diagnosis of birth asphyxia.

The AI solution, they say, has achieved over 95% prediction accuracy in clinical trials with nearly 1,400 pre-recorded baby cries.

The startup has earned international recognition and is in the final round for the global IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition, which has a $5 million prize.

Charles Onu, Ubenwa’s founder and principal innovator, says the company is presently conducting clinical validation exercises in Nigeria and hopes to make the service available and free for use.

“We want to do the tests in the hospital, interact directly with the babies, and compare how Ubenwa performs given all the new environmental challenges that would come up,” he said.

“We are still finalising a hybrid model. But in the meantime, we are planning to make it free for individuals and paid for organizations such as hospitals, clinics, governments, and others.”



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