Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Attending a session on Paediatrics

I went to attend a Paediatrics session with my Dad today. A pharmaceutical company was sponsoring the event and featuring a vaccine to the Rota-virus called Rotarix. A logical path from death of millions of people to the Rotavirus was stated in a statistical but interesting way.

Diarrhea is the second most cause of child fatality in the world. And 40% of the instances of diarrhea are caused by the Rotavirus.

The other session was about “murmurs” in infants hearts. The doctor talked about the grades of murmurs and when someone should send the infant to the hospital in case of a murmur and when its ok. The doctor listed some questions asking when to send a child with murmurs and also listed some rules as to when to send a child to the hospital in case of murmur.

Interestingly, the doctor didn’t follow the rules in all of the questions. The rules were a mere suggestion as he said, and someone must take the overall context and his judgment in the end. I was lucky to have the chance to talk to him for a minute after his lecture. Unfortunately, like all the medical doctors I have ever known, their perspective on Computer Science is non-existent and as a consequence their faith in AI is very low.

The doctor agreed that he has to incorporate his own thinking and not follow the rules as there are no rules. The rules still provide us with useful information, as they roughly associate actions with murmur grades.

I wish I can meet medical doctors who are also enthusiastic about the applications of computer science and especially Artificial Intelligence in the medical field. They are the domain experts and if they are also the knowledge engineers, some great advances in the field of AI could be made.

For me I’ll just keep my mind lit up. I’ll dig and research AI techniques and make more medical doctor friends. Despite their relative computer-illiteracy (sorry), they are interesting and enjoyable people most of the time. I am looking forward to the day where I can also dig into medical research also.

The final lecture was by my Dad. He talked about an underestimated problem: Sudden Infant DeathS (SIDS) or Sudden Infant Unexpected Death (SUID). The factors are genetic, environmental and another that I can’t remember. The sad thing about SIDS is that many families don’t perform the preventative procedures that minimize the risk of sudden infant death. Good care should be taken around infants because they can simply die. SIDS is obviously untreatable; hope one day we’ll cure death.

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