Salt Lake City, Utah,
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Study Looks at Use of Smartphone Cameras to Screen Newborns for Jaundice

Jaundice photo 1

Intermountain Health and Picterus AS, a Norwegian health technology company, have entered a partnership to study a new smartphone-based application that can estimate bilirubin levels in newborn babies using the smartphone’s camera. 

This new technology is exciting for health providers. More than 33,000 babies are born in Intermountain hospitals and tested for hyperbilirubinemia each year. Three of five newborns will experience jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin because of increased bilirubin levels in the body. Left untreated, severe jaundice can cause brain damage or hearing loss. 

Intermountain Health tests every baby born in their facilities at least once for jaundice with many babies requiring repeat blood draws both while in the facility and once sent home. They will be testing the new app and technology to evaluate its accuracy in measuring bilirubin in babies, without having to draw blood with a prick, as is done now. 

Researchers say the goals of the study are to find inexpensive, bloodless, painless, way to measure bilirubin levels in babies. 

If proven accurate, this technology will eventually enable parents and families to manage hyperbilirubinemia at home. Medical providers will then be able to provide guidance for families without the cost and inconvenience of taking babies to the clinic and to the lab. 

The app and technology include a laminated calibration card that is placed on the chest of the baby. About six pictures are taken of the card and the baby, automatically loaded onto a server, evaluated, and then sent back to the phone with measurements. 

“This technology is exciting to us because it makes it possible to measure the bilirubin in a baby without taking blood. Right now, the only way to measure bilirubin levels in babies is to take them to a laboratory and draw blood,” said Tim Bahr, MD, an Intermountain Health neonatologist, who is leading the study. “By having this technology available on a smartphone, we will eventually empower parents to make these measurements without having to leave their homes with an easily accessible and affordable tool.” 

“We do know that parents are pretty good at taking pictures of their babies,” he added. 

Intermountain researchers will study the app on about 300 term babies at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, and Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. 

Babies in the study will have their bilirubin measured with the new technology, as well as regular measurements (blood draws). About 150 of these babies will have a second measurement within two to five days after discharge when jaundice typically peaks. Additionally, 100 babies born pre-term babies will also be measured with the new technology. 

“We are very excited see the potential impact our tool could have on infant care in the United States. We are looking forward to ongoing collaboration and further development.” said Tormod Thomsen, chief executive officer of Picterus AS. 

“Bilirubin and jaundice management has long been based in the hospital and the clinic,” said Dr. Bahr. “Taking a newborn to the clinic or laboratory for frequent blood tests in the first days of life can be a huge inconvenience and burden on families. We hope to simplify this care and move more of it into the home. This is a win for families and for our healthcare system.”  


New smartphone-based application being studied that will estimate bilirubin levels in newborn babies using the smartphone’s camera.


About Picterus, AS 
Picterus, AS is a Norwegian based healthcare technology company that leverages a smartphone application & biomedical optics for accurate and cost-effective newborn jaundice level estimation. Picterus AS is led by CEO Tormod Thomsen. For more information, please visit 

About Intermountain 
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 4,600 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. 

Media Contact: Holly Nelson