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Student inventors create device to help reduce anemia in the developing world

Here’s another cool breakthrough in mobile-health technology: A group of biomedical engineering undergraduates from Johns Hopkins University have developed a low-cost, noninvasive device to help detect anemia in women and children in developing countries.

When connected to a cell phone, HemoGlobe can detect signs of anemia by measuring and reporting hemoglobin levels in the blood. As explained in a release:

The device's sensor, placed on a patient's fingertip, shines different wavelengths of light through the skin to measure the hemoglobin level in the blood. On a phone's screen, a community health worker quickly sees a color-coded test result, indicating cases of anemia, from mild to moderate and severe.

If anemia is detected, a patient would be encouraged to follow a course of treatment, ranging from taking iron supplements to visiting a clinic or hospital for potentially lifesaving measures. After each test, the phone would send an automated text message with a summary of the results to a central server, which would produce a real-time map showing where anemia is prevalent. This information could facilitate follow-up care and help health officials to allocate resources where the need is most urgent.

According to the World Health Organization, about 40 percent of preschool children are estimated to be anemic, and the disorder contributes to 20 percent of all maternal deaths in the developing world.

Previously: Diagnosing ear infections using your iPhone? Not so far-fetchedUsing an iPhone as an imaging device in developing countries and Mobile phone app helps manage diabetes
Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

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