- Joshua Budman
- Kevin Colbert
- Aaron Enten
- Michael Parlato
- Ashley Polhemus
- Harshad Sanghvi, MD
- Soumyadipta Acharya, MD, PhD
Anemia in Developing Countries
Anemia during pregnancy is defined as hemoglobin (Hb) concentration less than 10g/dL. Maternal anemia affects more than half of the pregnant women worldwide, causing 100,000 maternal deaths and 600,000 neonatal deaths each year. It also leads to poor outcomes for the child in the form of preterm birth, low birth weight, malnutrition, and stunted cognitive development. If it is identified early, cost effective therapies can combat the effects of anemia on the mother and the child. In fact, ferrous sulfate tablets have been shown to cure anemia if the patient is adherent. However, low adherence (<50 percent in many Asian and African countries) has been reported among pregnant women. In these populations, anemia is rarely caught early in pregnancy. If women are screened regularly, they can be informed of their anemic status and may be more likely to adhere to their recommended iron supplementation regimen.
HemoGlobe: A Point of Care Hemoglobin Assessment Tool
HemoGlobe is a new paradigm in preventative medicine that will empower community health workers to take anemia screening to the doorstep of rural women. A low-cost, noninvasive sensor passes multiple monochromatic lights through the finger and onto a photo detector. Using principles of photoplethysmography, the device collects the transmitted light and processes the resulting waveform. The device then connects to a cell phone, allowing real time analysis of the waveform and classification of the patient as having severe, moderate, or mild anemia. Preliminary results are based on waveforms that were collected from approximately 500 patients in Nepal and eastern India. These waveforms were subjected to a variety of nonlinear regression techniques, neural networks, and a support vector machine to develop the calibration curve.
After the waveform is collected patient data can be documented on the cell phone and, along with their anemia assessment, sent to a central server via SMS, MMS, phone call, or email. Uploading this data either to a server or the cloud creates a real-time database of anemia prevalence and distribution. This database can be used to track progress in areas with a disproportionate burden of maternal anemia, as well as facilitate resource allocation decisions by public health organizations. Use of this device on an international scale has the potential to reduce rates of maternal mortality, prevent premature births, and increase the health of young children in developing countries by facilitating point of care medical assessment and education for mothers with limited access to healthcare.