Neonatal jaundice, the yellowing of the skin caused by high levels of bilirubin in the blood, is one of the leading causes of brain damage and death in infants in low and middle income countries. Luckily, a recent AMED article reported that a team of researchers in Japan has created the first wearable device that precisely monitors jaundice so that it can be easily treated with blue light that breaks bilirubin down so that it can be excreted with urine.
The device is described as “multi-vital” because it can simultaneously measure neonatal jaundice, blood oxygen saturation, and pulse rate in real time. It contains a pulse oximeter and is small enough to be worn on the forehead of a newborn baby. The device has been tested on 50 babies but hasn’t proven accurate enough to guide clinical decision making. However, researchers plan to develop a combined treatment that pairs the wearable bilirubinometer with a phototherapy device for optimized efficiency.