Globally, its estimated that extreme neonatal jaundice (NNJ) affected 481,000 late-preterm and term newborns in the year 2010. Failure to detect and manage it resulted in 114,100 avoidable neonatal deaths and 63,000 infants with severe disabilities. The global burden was extremely higher for the poorest countries and 75% of mortality occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, attributing this outcome to lack of preventive services and effective treatment.
Jaundice can be easily diagnosed by a visual inspection as the signs are clearly evident in the form of a yellowish color acquired by the skin and the sclera of the eyes. This coloration is caused by elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. More than 50% of all infants, both preterm and full‐term, are at risk of hyperbilirubinemia. The build‐up of bilirubin can lead kernicterus causing neurotoxicity, brain damage and death. Phototherapy is the most frequently used treatment when bilirubin levels exceed physiological limits.
The team is proposing to develop a phototherapy unit that incorporates a color sensor to monitor the treatment progress of the infant with jaundice based on the intensity of skin yellowness and automatically adjusts the irradiance of the phototherapy light. The team is convinced that continuous monitoring of effects of the phototherapy is paramount for better health care delivery and prognosis.