Prediction of Preterm Deliveries from EHG Signals Using Machine Learning

Paul Fergus, Pauline Cheung, Abir Hussain, Dhiya Al-jumeily, Chelsea Dobbins, Shamaila Iram, Zhi Wei (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


There has been some improvement in the treatment of preterm infants, which has helped to increase their chance of survival. However, the rate of premature births is still globally increasing. As a result, this group of infants are most at risk of developing severe medical conditions that can affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal, immune, central nervous, auditory and visual systems. In extreme cases, this can also lead to long-term conditions, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, learning difficulties, including poor health and growth. In the US alone, the societal and economic cost of preterm births, in 2005, was estimated to be $26.2 billion, per annum. In the UK, this value was close to £2.95 billion, in 2009. Many believe that a better understanding of why preterm births occur, and a strategic focus on prevention, will help to improve the health of children and reduce healthcare costs. At present, most methods of preterm birth prediction are subjective. However, a strong body of evidence suggests the analysis of uterine electrical signals (Electrohysterography), could provide a viable way of diagnosing true labour and predict preterm deliveries. Most Electrohysterography studies focus on true labour detection during the final seven days, before labour. The challenge is to utilise Electrohysterography techniques to predict preterm delivery earlier in the pregnancy. This paper explores this idea further and presents a supervised machine learning approach that classifies term and preterm records, using an open source dataset containing 300 records (38 preterm and 262 term). The synthetic minority oversampling technique is used to oversample the minority preterm class, and cross validation techniques, are used to evaluate the dataset against other similar studies. Our approach shows an improvement on existing studies with 96% sensitivity, 90% specificity, and a 95% area under the curve value with 8% global error using the polynomial classifier.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere77154
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


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