Health Life

Using artificial intelligence to protect mothers’ future pregnancies

A digitized whole slide image of a placental membrane roll [low magnification; haemotoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain]. To illustrate relative scale, the blue square indicates a single blood vessel. B: Image patch showing an example of a healthy blood vessel (high magnification; H&E stain). C: Image patch showing a decidual arteriole affected by early-stage decidual vasculopathy, characterized by smooth hypertrophic muscle around the blood vessel lumen (high magnification; H&E stain). Scale bars: 125 um (B); 100 um (C). Original magnification, x20 (A). Credit: College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

After a baby is born, doctors sometimes examine the placenta—the organ that links the mother to the baby—for features that indicate health risks in any future pregnancies. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process that must be performed by a specialist, so most placentas go unexamined after the birth. A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) report the development of a machine learning approach to examine placenta slides in the American Journal of Pathology, so more women can be informed of their health risks.

One reason placentas are examined is to look for a type of lesions called decidual vasculopathy (DV). These indicate the mother is at risk for preeclampsia—a complication that can be fatal to the mother and baby—in any future pregnancies. Once detected, preeclampsia can be treated, so there is considerable benefit from identifying at-risk mothers before symptoms appear. However, although there are hundreds of in a single slide, only one diseased vessel is needed to indicate risk.

“Pathologists train for years to be able to find disease in these images, but there are so many pregnancies going through the hospital system that they don’t have time to inspect every placenta,” said Daniel Clymer, Ph.D.,

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Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families

Grieving the loss of a loved one during the fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming. It may be difficult for people to make decisions about how to safely grieve and honor their loved one. This guidance is for individuals and families as they work with funeral directors, community and religious leaders, and others to plan and hold funeral services and visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 by following these guiding principles.

Guiding Principles

  • The more people interact, the closer in distance the interaction is (less than 6 feet), and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • The higher the level of community transmission in an area, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Masks help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19, particularly if social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • During an in-person gathering, convene in outdoors or in well-ventilated areas, if possible, rather than poorly ventilated, indoor areas to help lower risk of spreading COVID-19. Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.
  • Avoid sharing commonly used objects such as religious aids (e.g., religious books, collection plates, programs, etc.,) to help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Reducing the number of people who are engaged in activities like singing or chanting as these behaviors can increase the amount of respiratory virus in the air.
  • Practice increased hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and objects to help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between attendees; facility or lay staff; and clergy or officiants, especially when small, in-person services are held.
  • Take extra precautions for those at increased risk for COVID-19, particularly those who are older or have pre-existing conditions, to help lower the risk