To create an app that can identify jaundice in newborn babies by examining their eyes, researchers at the University of Ghana and the University College London (UCL) performed collaborative research.

The neoSCB app was created by UCL doctors and engineers in association with the University of Ghana’s neonatal unit. It has been used on over 300 newborn infants in Ghana, after preliminary research on 37 newborns in 2020.

The neoSCB app uses images taken with smartphones to determine the yellowness of the eye’s white part (sclera), which is a signal for jaundice in neonates. Eyestrain limits direct investigation, but using the neoSCB app saves time by allowing early detection of neonate’s jaundice.

To evaluate the neoSCB app’s potential, a study was performed to compare the neoSCB app technology and traditional evaluation technique. According to the research, the app was able to detect 74 of 76 newborn jaundice situations while a popular evaluation technique that uses non-invasive equipment such as the transcutaneous bilirubinometer detects all 76 jaundice cases.

NeoSCB app measures in line with common screening techniques, according to the research.

The conventional technique of evaluating jaundice in babies is based on detecting the yellow pigment using a transcutaneous bilirubinometer, and consequently, determine the amount of jaundice in infants. Following up on these findings, blood tests are necessary, which are expensive.

Dr. Terence Leung, a researcher at UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, is the brain behind the neoSCB app’s technology. Dr. Leung says the program only works with a smartphone that costs less than a public device. NeoSCB, as Leung notes, has the potential to save newborn infants from dying if it is implemented properly. Furthermore, hospitals without costly screening equipment will benefit from the app.

“The neoSCB method was suitable for moms,” according to the University of Ghana Medical School’s Dr. Christabel Enweronu-Laryea of. Moms were easily able to keep the baby’s eye exposed while breastfeeding so that the app can check for jaundice.

Jaundice in babies has a serious consequence

Annually, jaundice kills 114,000 neonates and leads to 178,000 infant disabilities across the world. Nations with greater income successfully lower the likelihood of jaundice using traditional screening techniques; nevertheless, poorer nations feel its higher impact since they can’t afford costly testing equipment.

The price of the commercial jaundice screening device is about 4000 Euros, but additional blood tests increase the cost. Since neoSCB’s price is a tenth fraction of the traditional equipment and can be produced quickly in poor regions, it has the potential to prevent death and disability from jaundice. It can also help the healthcare system in low-income nations across Africa.

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