Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Smartphone a p p to screen for jaundice in newborns

Smartphone app  to screen for jaundice in newborns

 

Jaundice is common in babies in the first few days after they are born. Now a team from the University of Washington is developing a smartphone app that should make it easier for doctors and parents to monitor newborns and decide if they need to have a blood test to confirm they have jaundice.The definitive test for jaundice is a blood test, but what is needed is an effective screening tool, better than the naked eye, to help decide if a blood test should be done.

 

Some hospitals have a non-invasive screening tool for jaundice, but it is expensive and not suitable for home use.

The tool that the University of Washington (UW) team has developed combines a smartphone app with a color calibration card and algorithms in a cloud and gives a result in minutes, as UW professor of pediatrics James Taylor explains:

"Virtually every baby gets jaundiced, and we're sending them home from the hospital even before bilirubin levels reach their peak. This smartphone test is really for babies in the first few days after they go home. A parent or health care provider can get an accurate picture of bilirubin to bridge the gap after leaving the hospital."

To use the app, called BiliCam, the parent or health care provider places the calibration card - which is about the size of a business card - on the naked torso of the baby and takes a flash-assisted photo of the baby and card using the smartphone.

The app sends key data from the photo - which with the help of the calibration card accounts for differences in lighting conditions and skin tones - to the cloud using a data connection provided through the smartphone.

Algorithms in the cloud analyze the data and within minutes the smartphone receives a report on the likely levels of bilirubin in the baby.


 

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