AI_PREMie: addressing the global health challenge of preeclampsia

AI_PREMie will arm clinical care providers with an affordable risk stratification tool. We aim to empower clinicians by developing a powerful risk stratification tool, that will help in their diagnosis and care management of women affected by preeclampsia.


Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication typically characterised by the development of high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and it affects one in every 10 pregnancies. Every year it claims the lives of 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies, making it one of the world’s deadliest pregnancy complications.

Prof Patricia Maguire with the Invention of the Year Award from NovaUCD.

Diagnosis remains a serious challenge, and pre-term delivery of the baby is the only cure and the safest option for the mother. Therefore, an additional 5 million babies are born prematurely each year – sometimes very prematurely – which poses its own risks for the survival chances and long-term health of the child. Accurate risk stratification, where patients are assigned health risk statuses to help inform care, is urgently required to reduce these enormous competing risks.

Professor Maguire and her team have drawn upon cutting-edge biomedical, clinical and machine-learning knowhow to develop a prototype risk stratification tool, AI_PREMie, for preeclampsia. Their solution will be able to assist clinical decision making in real-time, hopefully enabling more accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment that will save lives.

AI_PREMie is currently being piloted in the three main maternity hospitals in Ireland, capturing 50% of all Irish births (National Maternity Hospital, Rotunda Hospital & Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital).

AI PREMie is a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research project, carried out in collaboration with Microsoft & SAS Software.

Addressing a global health challenge

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Preeclampsia affects 1 in 10 pregnancies.


Preeclampsia claims the lives of 50,000 mothers annually.


Preeclampsia claims the lives of 500,000 babies annually.

Research Description

Using their knowledge of platelets (tiny blood cells that help the body form clots and stop bleeding), Professor Maguire and her team have spent the past six years developing a new platelet-based technology platform called PALADINTM to reinvent how to find diagnostics in the blood.

They have used PALADINTM to uncover a combination of patent-pending ”biomarkers” (molecules in the blood) that have shown great promise in diagnosing preeclampsia, one of the world’s deadliest pregnancy complications. This test also includes markers which may be useful in separating women who will progress to severe disease from those who will remain stable.

Recently, using powerful machine-learning algorithms, they have combined these unique biochemical signals with clinical data to develop a new prototype test, AI_PREMie.

In preliminary findings, the team have compelling evidence that AI_PREMie can accurately diagnose preeclampsia, which can be incredibly challenging even for experienced medical staff. AI_PREMie may also be useful towards predicting whether a woman will progress to severe, permitting a more accurate timing of delivery, and potentially allowing a baby to remain in utero for several more precious hours or days, impacting their survival chances and long-term health.

In the future, by performing their analysis using standard equipment in the hospital lab as well as ‘in the cloud’, the team believe that AI_PREMie will return an easily interpretable risk score within a few hours, aiding clinical decision-making in real-time. Furthermore, as they plan to use advanced cloud technology, AI_PREMie will continually learn and evolve once it is implemented into widespread clinical practice.

It is hoped that AI_PREMie will arm clinical care providers with an affordable risk stratification tool to closely observe pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia, and will help to prevent unnecessary adverse outcomes for mother and baby.

Research Impact

Addressing a global health challenge

Maternal health is a significant global and national challenge. Professor Maguire and her team have combined their extensive knowledge to provide a prototype personalised treatment tool that will hopefully enable timely delivery decisions, which would transform the lives of pregnant mothers, their babies, their families and their extended communities.

Improving quality of life in this way aligns to the priorities of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG5 (Gender Equality), and SDG10 (Reducing Inequality). This is not only a moral imperative but critical for maintaining international growth.

A 2015 WHO report acknowledges that many maternal and infant deaths are preventable and in theory could be avoided with effective and timely clinical interventions. The key is to ensure that high-risk pregnancies and complications are recognised early. Thus, new diagnostics are urgently required, and AI_PREMie will fill this gap. Any significant innovations in maternal healthcare will help reduce global maternal and newborn mortality rates.

Health impact

By providing a timely and accurate prognosis, AI_PREMie will be a game-changer for women with preeclampsia and should have a major impact on the health and mortality rates of pregnant women and their babies worldwide. Every year, preeclampsia claims the lives of 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies. The team hope to deploy AI_PREMie globally within the few years and believe that within 5 years of deployment, the method will become part of pregnancy screening programs worldwide.

Survivors of preeclampsia have a lifelong increased risk of developing other chronic diseases, such as heart and vascular disease. In fact, preeclampsia is associated with a fourfold increased risk of developing kidney failure within 10 years after pregnancy. This risk is increased even further by having more than one preeclamptic pregnancy, a low-birthweight offspring, or a preterm delivery. Therefore, any improvement in clinical decision-making will have an enormous preventative potential on the long-term health of the population and future healthcare resource requirements.

Social impact

The team have raised public awareness of preeclampsia and their prototype solution through a range of public engagement activities, links to which are available in the References section below. This includes traditional media (several TV shows, articles in national papers, and opinion pieces by medical journals) as well as more modern approaches (such as reaching out directly to affected women and their families through their hashtags #myPETexperience and #AI_PREMie on Twitter). This dual approach has received a wide response from the patients and families affected by preeclampsia who spoke of their devastating memories of the condition:

“Brilliant! As a mother who had Preeclampsia at 29 weeks and delivered 6 weeks early, this is to be commended.”

“This amazing team of women are developing a blood test to predict preeclampsia. They listened to my story about losing my daughter Aoife and made me feel a part of their research. On #WorldPreeclampsiaDay2021 I'd like to say thank you to @maguirepatr and to the UCD team.”

Academic and technological impact

The scientific innovation underlying AI_PREMie, as well as the results to date, have been well received by international clinical and scientific audiences. AI_PREMie has been selected for a myriad of oral and poster presentations at prestigious international conferences, including the International Society for Thrombosis and Haemostasis, the American Society of Hematology, the pan Canadian thrombotic Research Network, and at the iPlacenta H2020 virtual conference. AI_PREMie has also been well received by industry at the SAS UK and Ireland forum.

Furthermore, three invention disclosure forms and a patent application have been filed because of the scientific research work at the heart of AI_PREMie. The biomarkers underlying this solution were also awarded the UCD NOVA Invention of the year 2021 for their significance in preeclampsia diagnosis and the real prospect of saving lives.