Norwegian Smartphone App Identifies Newborn Jaundice Levels

Picterus have created a smartphone app that can diagnose jaundice in newborns at a lower price. Based on biomedical optics and machine learning technology, the company can safely assess the degree of jaundice in a newborn by simply taking a picture with a smartphone. 

An estimated 114,000 newborns die from jaundice every year, and it is a major cause of death and brain damage in low and middle-income countries. This is due to the high cost of the medical devices used to accurately diagnose the condition. Furthermore, the shortened stays at maternity wards after birth in high-income countries have created a demand for more distributed technologies for managing jaundice.

Picterus was founded in 2015 in Trondheim, Norway, by Gunnar Vartdal (CFO) with the mission of becoming a global health player by developing the world’s first low-cost diagnostic tool for jaundice that works for all skin types. The idea behind Picterus came from visiting hospitals in Tanzania and realising how the current methods of identifying jaundice in newborns were unreliable and too expensive. When jaundice is detected early, treatment is easy with phototherapy.

The Picterus app is intended for use by hospitals, health stations, or home visits by authorised health personnel. With only a smartphone and a calibration card, the medical device provides an immediate estimate of bilirubin to assess the severity of jaundice, assisting in an accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

The company received funding from the European Commission through an EIC Accelerator grant, which allowed them to tighten its development and marketing plans, helping them grow as a company. The company also received additional support from Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council to help with the initial development of the project through financial support. Picterus now hopes to see their technology being used worldwide and most importantly generating a high improvement in newborns’ lives.

Source: Picterus