Researchers develop app that detects jaundice in newborns with a click
Newborn babies are prone to jaundice. In order to let medics and parents detect jaundice in infants real early, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have developed a mobile app, which helps diagnose jaundice in babies by clicking a picture. Called the BiliCam, the app uses smartphone camera, flash and a business card-sized color calibration card to provide information about the infant’s bilirubin levels.
By simply placing a color calibration card on the baby’s belly, a picture is taken from the app enabled smartphone. The data from the photo is uploaded to the cloud for analysis by machine-learning algorithm, and it report of the baby’s bilirubin levels is sent instantly to the patent or healthcare professional’s smartphone.
Jaundice is basically a yellowish discoloration of the skin, which is result of high amount of bilirubin in the blood. In newborn babies, liver isn’t fully functioning because of which they are not often able to breakdown bilirubin, a byproduct of breakdown of red blood cells quickly. As an outcome of which, they develop an excess amount of bilirubin in the blood and the skin appears to be yellow. Some babies can deal with excess bilirubin themselves while others may need medication, since untreated jaundice can lead to kernicterus disease of brain damage.
Until now, before advising for blood tests, healthcare professionals and parents have relied on intensity of the body color change as clue to detect jaundice in infants. But now with BiliCam app detecting jaundice can be made easy.
At UW Medical Center, the app has been clinically tested in about 100 newborns already, and in most cases the BiliCam has performed better than blood tests. The team of researchers plans to test the BiliCam app with 1,000 newborns to see if app-based diagnostic could replace blood test for faster diagnosis in the near future.