Researchers Successfully Used Smartphone Images To Detect Anemia, A Cheaper Non-Invasive Diagnostic Technique That May Widen Accessibility In Low And Middle-Income Countries 

The first trip is to get their book sample taken; then, the second is to collect their results– since samples must be transported from the clinic to the lab for analysis. HemoCue, a handheld device, was developed in the 1980s and provided more immediate results. But, this technique still presented large upfront and ongoing expenses in addition to needing a blood sample.

For this study, though, the scientists decided to build on prior research centered around an app– known as neoSCB– that successfully detected jaundice in newborn babies. The team knew that, due to the way hemoglobin absorbs light, it has an extremely characteristic color. So, they set out to design a procedure using smartphone photographs to predict whether or not anemia is present.

The researchers analyzed images taken of 43 children who were under the age of 4. These children were recruited to participate in the study in 2018, and the photos were of three bodily regions where minimal skin pigmentation occurs– the lower eyelid, the lower lip, and the white of the eye.

The researchers found that after the images were evaluated together to predict blood concentration of hemoglobin, they were able to successfully detect every case of the most severe anemia classification. The team was also able to detect milder anemia cases at rates that are still clinically significant.

“We are excited to see these promising results in a group that is often underrepresented in research using smartphone diagnostics. An affordable and reliable technique to screen for anemia using a smartphone could drive long-term improvements in quality of life for a large number of people,” explained Ph.D. candidate Thomas Wemyss, the study’s first author.

According to Dr. Judit Meek, anemia is also a severe problem among infants– especially those living in low and middle-income countries.

“So we hope this sort of technology will lead to earlier detection and treatment in the near future,” Dr. Meek said.

To read the study’s complete findings, visit the link here.

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