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15-year-old Saanvi Mehra has designed a project to identify children afflicted with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder, through their photographs. Designed as part of a project submitted to Google India Code to Learn contest 2020, this tool has the potential of saving more than 20,000 children's lives annually in India alone. This landmark innovation not only secured Saanvi a victory in the contest in the Class 9-10 category but will also be a boon for the children suffering from Down Syndrome.
Saanvi, a student of The Shriram Millennium School, Noida, chose this project as Down Syndrome's prevalence in India is estimated at roughly one out of every thousand children (1:1000), leading to over 30,000 children being born every year with this genetic disorder. In India, the survival rate is barely 44%.
The main reason for this high mortality in India is non-diagnosis/ late-diagnosis due to a lack of access to, and in-affordability of medical diagnostic facilities. The primary markers of a Down Syndrome (DS) baby can be established before birth through an ultrasound scan, which is unaffordable for over 90% of Indian parents.
"Machine Learning models, based on something as simple as a photograph of the baby, can help in detecting Down Syndrome with remarkable accuracy. Every single child with Down Syndrome in the sample was correctly identified" says Saanvi. "Given the penetration of smartphones in India, almost every parent has the ability to click a photograph of their child and use this free tool. The result of early detection is not just a reduction in the deaths of these children but also a better lifestyle due to timely treatment. I look forward to working closely with hospitals and paediatricians after my board exams so that we can save as many children as possible".
"We are very proud of Saanvi and her noble project, which will save thousands of lives of children afflicted with Down Syndrome. She has taken forward the values of our institution and we are ready to support her in any way we can", said Ms Uttara Singh, Director, The Shriram Millennium schools. "I would like to encourage more students to pursue programming and solve problems around them".
Further details can be accessed here