Detecting newborn jaundice with just the click of a phone

SEATTLE -- A new app, developed by doctors and engineers our own backyard, could help detect newborn jaundice and ease the fears of new parents.

Newborn jaundice is normal, and very common.

Out of the 4 million babies born in the U.S every year, about 3.5 million have some form of jaundice.

“Typically the family brings the newborn in the first day or second day of life, but newborn jaundice peaks on day 3 to 5 of life; many parents are confused when their baby turns yellow,” says Doctor Jim Stout, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

It’s caused by excess bilirubin in the blood, a pigment produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

Usually that level levels out, but sometimes it doesn’t.

For parents, many are left wondering…how yellow is too yellow?

That’s where this new app comes in.

Doctor Stout worked with engineers at the University of Washing to create the app.

Simply place the phone near the baby’s stomach and take a picture. The app analyzed the skin color to see if it’s at an appropriate level.

“What we want to do is have in hands of family to check at home and bring to doctors attention if it appears to be high,” says Doctor Stout.

The app is not available right now as it’s still in the early stages of development.