Kumanan Wilson of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada is developing an algorithm to estimate gestational age using specific metabolic analytes found in blood spots collected routinely from newborns in many countries. Knowing the precise age of infants is important for evaluating development particularly of brain function. It is currently measured by ultrasound, which requires expertise and expensive equipment, and is not available in many countries. In Phase I, they used data from around one million ethnically-diverse Canadian newborns to demonstrate that specific metabolites along with sex and birth weight shortly after birth could be used to predict gestational age within one to two weeks. In Phase II, they will further adapt and test their algorithm using existing newborn data from varied international settings, and evaluate the performance of the resultant global algorithm on samples from Bangladesh and Zambia.
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