Multiple instance learning for predicting necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants using microbiome data

Thomas Hooven, Yun Chao Lin, Ansaf Salleb-Aouissi

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Abstract: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening intestinal disease that primarily affects preterm infants during their first weeks after birth. Mortality rates associated with NEC are 15-30%, and surviving infants are susceptible to multiple serious, long-term complications. The disease is sporadic and, with currently available tools, unpredictable. We are creating an early warning system that uses stool microbiome features, combined with clinical and demographic information, to identify infants at high risk of developing NEC. Our approach uses a multiple instance learning, neural network-based system that could be used to generate daily or weekly NEC predictions for premature infants. The approach was selected to effectively utilize sparse and weakly annotated datasets characteristic of stool microbiome analysis. Here we describe initial validation of our system, using clinical and microbiome data from a nested case-control study of 161 preterm infants. We show receiver-operator curve areas above 0.9, with 75% of dominant predictive samples for NEC-affected infants identified at least 24 hours prior to disease onset. Our results pave the way for development of a real-time early warning system for NEC using a limited set of basic clinical and demographic details combined with stool microbiome data.

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