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4 Technological Advances in Newborn Care and a Pediatrician’s Review

The Doc Smitty looks at the latest technology in parenting a baby

I love almost everything about practicing pediatrics but if there are two topics I have to pick as my favorites they would be:



So, you might not be surprised to hear that a new tool for evaluating jaundice using a smartphone definitely activated my nerd alert.

Jaundice is a high level of bilirubin in the blood. Yellow skin is a reliable sign, but diagnosis is made with a blood test to measure the bilirubin level.

BiliCam is a smartphone enabled app which helps to measure a baby’s level of jaundice (bilirubin) by taking a picture alongside a calibration card which is then uploaded and analyzed.

The good news is that those measurements were found to be close to those drawn from the blood and, most importantly, were accurate in measuring infants with bilirubin levels over 17 (which is near the level at which treatment would be necessary). Currently, children who are on the border requiring phototherapy might require frequent visits to the doctor for blood draws to assess their jaundice levels. A non-painful option that could be done by the parent at home would be amazing.

BiliCam is just one of a number of rapidly expanding uses of technology in parenting a newborn. Starting with BiliCam, here are 4 technological advances in newborn care and my review:


I love the idea and I really think it could be useful. But I found a couple of problems right now. I can’t figure out how to implement it in practice. As far as I can tell, it's not commercially available at this time. Another problem is that it requires parents to have a card. I suppose I could keep them at my office for those babies who I’m sending home that I know will need a screen but, otherwise, if they need to be screened, they’ll have to come and pick up a card (which kind of defeats the purpose).

Overall Rating: B-

2.Respiratory and other vital sign enabled-monitors

We’ve written about these before, but I feel like a new one comes out every month. Every time I publish this story, there are people who comment about how much they loved theirs. But there are also people who echo my concern that they caused tremendous anxiety. Because of this and because there is no proof that they prevent bad things from happening to your child…

Overall Rating: C-

3.Baby tracking apps

Do we really need to know every time your baby poops, pees or feeds? Probably not. But I have found them to be helpful when babies are having trouble gaining weight. I’ve also seen parents use them to help their baby find a more predictable feeding schedule. With very little risk and the benefit of giving my accountant parents something to do…

Overall Rating: B+

4.Your smartphone camera

While you may not find this particularly groundbreaking, I have found it to be one of the best technologies for newborns. Whether it’s taking a picture to track head shape changes or birthmarks or if it’s for connecting with me for a live telemedicine visit that allows parents to stay home with their newborn, a lot of information can be gathered based on the quality of photos that can be taken.

Overall Rating: A

What are some other technologies you used during the newborn period? What other technology would you like to hear more about in the near future?

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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