Fierce

Google Awards Peruvian Scientist For Her Research That Could Change How People Are Diagnosed

As we near the end of a decade, Google has awarded $500,000 in funding to two Peruvian scientists to continue their quest to use artificial intelligence to diagnose autism, a method that would be affordable and accessible for underprivileged communities. The Google Research Awards for Latin America (LARA) aims to elevate world-class Latin American researchers in academia and their students by funding a selection of cutting-edge projects. This year, the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia produced the seventh annual awards winners, esteemed researcher Mirko Zimic and his 27-year-old student Macarena Vittet. 

The research duo was awarded $500,000 to fund another two years of research and development of a portable, non-invasive system to diagnose autism at an early age for low-income children.

Over the next two years, Mirko Zimic and Macarena Vittet will now be able to produce a product that will diagnose autism in just two minutes.

CREDIT: MACARENA VITTET / FACEBOOK

According to Andina, the award-winning research will eventually produce a portable system that will record eye movements while the child watches two videos. The eye movements are presumed to signify where the child’s attention is grabbed. The system will also analyze facial gestures to measure emotions. Combined, these measurements are meant to detect neurological abnormality in the child in less than two minutes, and without any highly specialized training. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult to diagnose since there is no one medical test. Diagnosing ASD is a lengthy two-step process in the United States. A doctor might rely on parents’ assessment of their child’s behavior along with their own developmental screening. During the screening, the doctor would talk and play with the child and observe how they learn, speak, behave, and move. The second step is a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which might include “a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing,” according to the CDC. The evaluation is meant to be thorough and likely done by specialists like a Developmental Pediatrician, Child Neurologist or Child Psychologist.

Often, the kind of extensive, specialized screening processes to diagnose ASD is not available to low-income children.

CREDIT: @INVESTIGAUPCH / TWITTER

It is a universal truth that affordable and fair access to healthcare is highly correlated with wealth. Wealthy, urban areas are often where specialized doctors congregate. For low-income families, the burden of travel expenses and the ability to take time off to transport their children to meet with an ASD specialist may be impossible. While facial recognition technology has become a controversial topic as governments across the globe begin to rely on the technology to monitor its citizens, these Peruvian scientists are putting the technology to good use. 

The researchers’ next task is to standardize the algorithm that will be used to diagnose ASD. Treatment for any disease is almost always preceded with a diagnosis. Developing a tool that doesn’t require extensive education for the medical provider to use, or extensive time for the parent and child will allow for the most vulnerable populations to get the diagnoses they need to get help.

Google chose the autism diagnosis project as the winner out of 670 applications.

CREDIT: MACARENA VITTET / FACEBOOK

Vittet is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Public Health at University Cayetano Heredia but has been working in ASD diagnosis in children since 2017. Alongside research to aid in early diagnosis, Vittet wants to work to create public policy that supports parents of children with ASD.

“I also aim to work towards the development of measures and policies that can support both the parents of children with ASD and the children, themselves, leading them to have better performance and allowing them to integrate into society. I believe that research in this field is crucial especially in countries like Peru, where mental health, despite its drastic impact on society, is not yet a priority,” Vittet said on her LinkedIn page.

“Let’s hope that we can obtain a result that will fill a gap within a community that is not well-known in the country,” Vittet told Andina.

Nearly half of Google’s award recipients have focused their research on creating health tools.

CREDIT: @UCINOTICIAS_PE / TWITTER

Engineering Director of Google Latin America, Berthier Ribeiro-Nieto, told Andina that “Almost half of the projects awarded by Google use health technology tools. Alongside Zimic and Vittet’s award are 24 other winning projects of the Google LARA 2019. The country with the highest number of representative winners was Brazil, with 15 winning projects, followed by Colombia with five winning projects, Chile with two, and Peru with one winning project. “All these initiatives are aimed at solving various problems that affect people, such as skin cancer classification, automatic detection of Aedes aegypti breeding areas, pest detection, lung nodules detection and more,” Ribeiro-Neto told the outlet. Felicidades!

READ: For HBO’s Autism Fundraiser Lin-Manuel Called In To Curse Out Jon Stewart

Women Share The Poor Treatment They’ve Received Because Of Mistreatment By Doctors: ‘I felt the cut from my c-section and screamed’

Fierce

Women Share The Poor Treatment They’ve Received Because Of Mistreatment By Doctors: ‘I felt the cut from my c-section and screamed’

John Moore / Getty

Recently, a post on social media sparked a conversation among Latinas online about the way women of color are treated by health care workers in the United States. A post by a user by the name of @krystinaArielle prompted comments that are truly so eyeopening.

“I keep telling you. It’s not just the police. Doctors treat us horribly and act as if we’re faking. After my c-section they sent me home with no pain medicine. Let me repeat: they cut open my stomach, ripped out a child, and sent me home with nothing,” a user by the name of Kristina Arielle wrote. ” I had to beg one of my nurses for pain medicine as she saw me in pain. My chart even had the time I was supposed to get it. She treated me as if I was a liar. It was a day after surgery and I was just getting feeling back in my legs. I felt everything. When I went back to have my scar inspected my PA looked shocked that it looked good. I go to the post-interview and the assistant goes “they were shocked your scar was so smooth. He usually does an awful staple job on brown women. Its probably because your husband is white.”

When we posted Arielle’s account on Instagram, users were quick to reply with their own experiences.

Some women say such treatment inspired them to get involved in medicine.

“Another reason I got into the medical field, I want to be able to help out by being a female Latina medical provider so that my patients can feel comfortable and safe along with being able to explain things in Spanish.”- ore_yana

Others said they’ve been prompted to avoid any providers who are not women of color.

“All of my medical providers are women of color. I am done with the white male medical patriarchy.” –bella_cin

One woman said that she almost did not survive giving birth.

“This happened to me, dilated at 10pm, gave birth at 3.59 am… left pushing for 6hours. Thank the universe that my daughter was born. Either one of us could have ‘not survived’ the birth.” – auletta.chiquita

Another shared how uncaring her providers were.

“They gave me tylenol to take at home after my c-section.” – _tweedle.deee

A doctor didn’t believe her when she said she didn’t have enough of her epidural.

“An old coworker of mine told me about her 2nd daughters birth. She told drs that the epidural didn’t work and she could feel everything. They didn’t believe her and had no choice but to continue through the labor. She felt everything and she even tore in the process. Against she told them she was in a lot of pain. Drs again didn’t believe her until she told them how many stitches she felt so far as they closed her wound. it wasn’t until then that she said the doctors went “oh shit” and gave her medication. Smh it’s a fucking shame and disgrace that it’s still happening.” – noturmamaciiita

One woman says her doctors during her birth were dismissive of her pain.

“This is true, when my mom had my sister, they put in the epidural wrong and it gave her a really bad headache ON TOP OF having a C-section and the doctors dismissed her pain.” – natalia.oregon

She lost her cousin to the doctors’ lack of care.

“My cousin had diabetes and got an infection after her C-section and died days later 😔 she should have been under medical care for much longer.” – tinnaafaceee

She had nonchalant treatment when she lost a baby.

“I lost a baby in February and I feel that more could be been done. I was just pretty much told I’m in labor and we just had to let it be. It was the most traumatizing moment in my life. I’m pregnant again and so scared to have the same nonchalant treatment I did before.” –maricela.diaz84

And this woman says she was left for dead by her doctors.

“I wish more people knew about this, I nearly died at birth because my doctor left me for dead after I was born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. My papa had to literally save me. Like seriously?! & my mom was bleeding out, the doctor declared me dead at birth and peaced out. It was just me, my mom & dad struggling to survive.” –curlsofroses

This horrifying moment had a woman experience the pain of her c-section.

“I felt the cut from my c-section and screamed even after I kept telling them I could still feel pain while they were prepping me. When my grito was out people ran all over and I was out under (higher risk) because they did not listen.” – jo_trains

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

Fierce

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

danielaalvareztv / Instagram

Former Miss Colombia Daniella Álvarez is showing that there is nothing that can keep her down. The former beauty pageant star had to have part of her left leg amputated after complications from a routine surgery.

Daniella Álvarez, a former Miss Colombia, is showing the world her resilience.

After a routine surgical procedure, and several follow up surgeries, part of the beauty pageant star’s left leg was amputated. Despite a major surgery, Álvarez is determined to live out the rest of her dreams and regardless of the amputation.

She recently shared a video on Instagram of her dancing for the first time since the surgery 3 weeks ago.

“Putting swing to life with my favorite partner @rickialvarezv. No matter the difficulties,” Álvarez writes in her post. “We must be resilient in life!”

Álvarez’s story is a cautionary tale of the kinds of complications that can arise from routine surgical procedures.

Álvarez explains that she went in to have a lump removed from her abdomen. Unfortunately, that surgery led to complications that required follow up surgeries to rectify the issues. Those follow up surgeries led to ischemia, which is when blood doesn’t flow where it needs to. The ischemia attacked both of her legs yet the left one was the most impacted.

Doctors tried everything they could to save Álvarez’s left leg.

After multiple surgeries, it became clear to doctors that they would not be able to save Álvarez’s leg. The only option left was to amputate and Álvarez accepted that fate with grace and class. The young woman seemed at peace with the decision and trusted that her doctors had done their jobs to the best of their ability.

Best wishes on an increasingly speedy recovery!

Álvarez’s right leg is not completely healed from the complications but it is getting better.

“The ischemia has also affected the functionality of my other foot as well, I am unable to walk,” Álvarez told La FM, according to Hola. “My right foot feels completely asleep and hasn’t woken up and we don’t know how long it will take for the foot to start functioning again.”

READ: Colombia’s Beauty Queen Winner Shared Her Brave Decision To Have Her Leg Amputated