Reducing the burden of bilirubin-induced neurologic complications in low-resource countries requires reliable and accessible screening tools. We sought to optimize and validate a sclera-based smartphone application, Neonatal Scleral-Conjunctival Bilirubin (neoSCB), for screening neonatal jaundice.
Using a cross-sectional design, consecutive eligible infants (aged 0–28 days, in the hospital, not critically ill) were enrolled in Ghana from March 2019 to April 2020. Jaundice screening was performed with neoSCB (Samsung Galaxy S8) to quantify SCB and JM-105 (Dräger) for transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB). Screening values were compared with total serum bilirubin (TSB) measured at the point of care.
Overall, 724 infants participated in the optimization and validation phases of the study. The analysis for validation included 336 infants with no previous treatment of jaundice. Single neoSCB image captures identified infants with TSB >14.62 mg/dL (250 μmol/L) with reasonably high sensitivity, specificity, and receiver operating characteristic area under the curve at 0.94 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.91 to 0.97), 0.73 (95% CI, 0.68 to 0.78), and 0.90, respectively. These findings were comparable to the sensitivity and specificity of JM-105 (0.96 [95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99] and 0.81 [95% CI, 0.76 to 0.86], respectively). The TcB/TSB had a larger correlation coefficient (r = 0.93; P < .01) than SCB/TSB (r = 0.78; P < .01). Performance of both devices was lower in infants with previous phototherapy (n = 231).
The diagnostic performance of neoSCB was comparable to JM-105 and is a potential, affordable, contact-free screening tool for neonatal jaundice.