S. Korea to employ AI and big data to fight world’s lowest fertility rate

S. Korea to employ AI and big data to fight world’s lowest fertility rate

Passengers walk at Seoul railway station in Seoul on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)
Passengers walk at Seoul railway station in Seoul on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)

SEOUL: South Korea is employing artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technologies in hopes to boost stubbornly low birth rate in zero range despite decades of colossal spending and slow the thinning in the population.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has outsourced research on applying AI analytics to support pregnancy planning and infertility program more effectively, Pulse reported on Tuesday.

The idea is to study successful cases of pregnancies despite diagnosis in infertility and have machine learning to come up with optimized embryo conditions.

If the idea proves feasible, it will test out the program in some local areas before applying it nationwide.

The programme can enable customised infertility program for couples.

Son Moon-keum, head of fertility policy at the ministry, said that it is difficult to examine pregnancy success in infertility treatment and select so-called “good embryos” that are key to pregnancy success.

“Analysing actual infertility treatment data through AI is expected to provide optimum treatment scheme,” Son said.

On top of declining marriages and reluctance towards giving birth, mothers-to-be are increasingly turning to fertility treatment due to older age for their first pregnancy.

According to Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, 2.8% of newborns, or 8,973 babies in 2018 had been born under the government’s infertility medical support programme. Last year, ratio shot up to 10.6%, or 28,699 babies.

The number of women diagnosed with infertility also rose 16% from 196,853 in 2011 to 228,696 in 2019. 

The success rate of fertility treatment, however, remains at between 30 and 35%.

The government is turning to high tech to fight the world’s bottom fertility rate that has been threatening the country with demographic cliff.

The country’s total fertility rate – the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime – was the world’s lowest of 0.84 last year.

As a result, the country’s birth rate has been on the downward spiral. Last year, 272,300 babies were born, down 30,300 from a year ago.

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