Neonatal heart and lung sound quality assessment for robust heart and breathing rate estimation for telehealth applications

Ethan Grooby, Jinyuan He, Julie Kiewsky, Davood Fattahi, Lindsay Zhou, Arrabella King, Ashwin Ramanathan, Atul Malhotra, Guy A. Dumont, Faezeh Marzbanrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


With advances in digital stethoscopes, internet of things, signal processing and machine learning, chest sounds can be easily collected and transmitted to the cloud for remote monitoring and diagnosis. However, low quality of recordings complicates remote monitoring and diagnosis, particularly for neonatal care. This paper proposes a new method to objectively and automatically assess the signal quality to improve the accuracy and reliability of heart rate (HR) and breathing rate (BR) estimation from noisy neonatal chest sounds. A total of 88 10-second long chest sounds were taken from 76 preterm and full-term babies. Six annotators independently assessed the signal quality, number of detectable beats, and breathing periods from these recordings. For quality classification, 187 and 182 features were extracted from heart and lung sounds, respectively. After feature selection, class balancing, and hyperparameter optimization, a dynamic binary classification model was trained. Then HR and BR were automatically estimated from the chest sound and several approaches were compared. The results of subject-wise leave-one-out cross-validation, showed that the model distinguished high and low quality recordings in the test set with 96% specificity, 81% sensitivity and 93% accuracy for heart sounds, and 86% specificity, 69% sensitivity and 82% accuracy for lung sounds. The HR and BR estimated from high quality sounds resulted in significantly less median absolute error (4bpm and 12bpm difference, respectively) compared to those from low quality sounds. The methods presented in this work, facilitates automated neonatal chest sound auscultation for future telehealth applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4255-4266
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2021


  • Breath sound
  • Dynamic classifier
  • Estimation
  • Heart rate
  • Heart sound
  • Hospitals
  • Lung
  • Neonatal monitoring
  • Pediatrics
  • phonocardiography (PCG)
  • Quality assessment
  • respiration rate
  • Stethoscope
  • Telehealth

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