Newborn jaundice is a common condition in babies. While yellowing of the skin is a primary indicator, that discoloration may be hard to see and, if left untreated, can harm a baby. University of Washington, Seattle, engineers and physicians have developed a smartphone app that can check for jaundice and can deliver results to parents and pediatricians within minutes.
Since bilirubin levels build up, usually after the baby leaves the hospital, the smartphone test could serve as a screening tool to determine whether a baby needs a blood test to detect high levels of bilirubin in the first few days at home.
The app, called BiliCam, uses a smartphone’s camera and flash and a color calibration card. A parent or health care professional would download the app, place the card on the baby’s belly, and take a picture with the card in view. The card calibrates and accounts for different lighting conditions and skin tones. Data from the photo are analyzed by machine-learning algorithms, and a report on the newborn’s bilirubin levels is sent almost instantly to the parent’s phone.
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