Smart Sclera Screening of Jaundiced Newborns in Ghana

University College London
Organization Location: 
London, United Kingdom
Project Location: 

This project exploits the advanced yet affordable smartphone technology to screen newborns in Ghana for severe jaundice, a condition which affects 18% of newborns worldwide and is a significant avoidable cause of death and disability. The smartphone app measures bilirubin levels based on sclera colour, which is a very different approach from current non-invasive techniques based on skin colour, e.g., transcutaneous bilirubinometers (TcB) and research skin apps. The skin pigment melanin often affects the accuracy of noninvasive bilirubin measurements, especially for African babies who have a higher level of melanin in the skin. The sclera, however, is free of melanin and is also less influenced by haemoglobin, making it an ideal site to quantify bilirubin levels based on its “yellowness”. The project team will collect images of newborns’ eyes and other clinical information in two hospitals and rural areas in Ghana. The dataset will allow them to develop algorithms to predict bilirubin levels based on images of sclera, and evaluate the accuracy in comparison to the results obtained by standard blood tests and TcBs. The app aims to achieve a better diagnostic performance than commercial TcBs in African newborns, and will undergo the certification process (CE Mark) so that it can be distributed legally and more widely. The project’s vision is to provide a reliable, low-cost diagnostic technique in a low-resourced, rural setting so that at-risk newborns can be identified early and receive timely treatment.

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