Validation of machine-learning model for first-trimester prediction of pre-eclampsia using cohort from PREVAL study

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2024 Jan;63(1):68-74. doi: 10.1002/uog.27478.


Objective: Effective first-trimester screening for pre-eclampsia (PE) can be achieved using a competing-risks model that combines risk factors from the maternal history with multiples of the median (MoM) values of biomarkers. A new model using artificial intelligence through machine-learning methods has been shown to achieve similar screening performance without the need for conversion of raw data of biomarkers into MoM. This study aimed to investigate whether this model can be used across populations without specific adaptations.

Methods: Previously, a machine-learning model derived with the use of a fully connected neural network for first-trimester prediction of early (< 34 weeks), preterm (< 37 weeks) and all PE was developed and tested in a cohort of pregnant women in the UK. The model was based on maternal risk factors and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), uterine artery pulsatility index (UtA-PI), placental growth factor (PlGF) and pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A). In this study, the model was applied to a dataset of 10 110 singleton pregnancies examined in Spain who participated in the first-trimester PE validation (PREVAL) study, in which first-trimester screening for PE was carried out using the Fetal Medicine Foundation (FMF) competing-risks model. The performance of screening was assessed by examining the area under the receiver-operating-characteristics curve (AUC) and detection rate (DR) at a 10% screen-positive rate (SPR). These indices were compared with those derived from the application of the FMF competing-risks model. The performance of screening was poor if no adjustment was made for the analyzer used to measure PlGF, which was different in the UK and Spain. Therefore, adjustment for the analyzer used was performed using simple linear regression.

Results: The DRs at 10% SPR for early, preterm and all PE with the machine-learning model were 84.4% (95% CI, 67.2-94.7%), 77.8% (95% CI, 66.4-86.7%) and 55.7% (95% CI, 49.0-62.2%), respectively, with the corresponding AUCs of 0.920 (95% CI, 0.864-0.975), 0.913 (95% CI, 0.882-0.944) and 0.846 (95% CI, 0.820-0.872). This performance was achieved with the use of three of the biomarkers (MAP, UtA-PI and PlGF); inclusion of PAPP-A did not provide significant improvement in DR. The machine-learning model had similar performance to that achieved by the FMF competing-risks model (DR at 10% SPR, 82.7% (95% CI, 69.6-95.8%) for early PE, 72.7% (95% CI, 62.9-82.6%) for preterm PE and 55.1% (95% CI, 48.8-61.4%) for all PE) without requiring specific adaptations to the population.

Conclusions: A machine-learning model for first-trimester prediction of PE based on a neural network provides effective screening for PE that can be applied in different populations. However, before doing so, it is essential to make adjustments for the analyzer used for biochemical testing. © 2023 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; first trimester; machine learning; mean arterial pressure; neural network; placental growth factor; posterior risk; pre-eclampsia; pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A; prior risk; uterine artery Doppler.

MeSH terms

  • Arterial Pressure / physiology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Machine Learning
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology
  • Uterine Artery


  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Biomarkers