To evaluate the health of a fetus, sonographers and prenatal clinicians sift through a wealth of critical care information. A single ultrasound generates hundreds of indicators to examine. Should one detail be missed, the course of a baby’s life—or that of its parent—can be changed forever.
Now a Paris-based company is developing technology to support fetal ultrasound readings – thanks to image-trained artificial intelligence. At Sonio, founder and CEO Cécile Brosset Dubois leads AI-powered software that automates ultrasound reporting, detects images for abnormalities and ultimately ensures safer outcomes for babies and their expectant parents.
“In a world where disparities in prenatal care persist, it is crucial to address the barriers that prevent women from accessing quality health care during one of the most transformative periods of their lives,” says Brosset Dubois, ‘ a mother of two herself, to Quartz by email.
Brosset Dubois is betting that artificial intelligence can help hospitals and individual clinicians make more sophisticated assessments. AI-powered ultrasounds could speed up the pace at which doctors diagnose rare pathologies, along with reducing errors in their readings.
One in 33 babies in the US is born with a birth defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and catching those defects early is one key way to ensure the well-being of both baby and parent. Sonio’s AI is trained on a data set of around 200,000 images and has the ability to quickly and accurately detect fetal abnormalities. Sonio’s products are manufacturer agnostic, or can work with any manufacturer’s sonography equipment. Clinics do not need to replace any of their machinery to work with Sonio software.
Sonio had an exciting year. After raising $14 million (€12.9 million) in Series A funding in June, the company announced in August that its software was the first of its kind to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) . Products are already used across Europe and in India, Brazil and Nigeria. But now, fueled by the FDA’s stamp of approval, the company is poised to enter the US market in 2024.
Although a number of diseases are treatable even before birth, not all are identified in time to provide a baby—or its mother—with proper prenatal care. Backed with new technology, Sonio hopes to “improve global access and quality of care for women and children through artificial and collective intelligence,” says Brosset Dubois.
This story is part of Quartz’s Innovators List 2023a series that highlights the people who are deploying bold technologies and reimagining the way we do business for good around the world. Get the full list here.