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Blood Test Detects Abusive Head Trauma in Infants

June 7th, 2017

Abusive head trauma (AHT) in infants, often known as shaken baby syndrome, can lead to permanent brain damage and even death. “AHT is the leading cause of death from traumatic brain injury in infants and the leading cause of death from physical abuse in the United States,” said Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine, and chief, Child Advocacy Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Approximately 30 percent of AHT cases are missed when caretakers provide inaccurate histories or when infants have nonspecific symptoms like vomiting or fussiness, but a new blood test may help physicians accurately diagnose the condition. Dr. Berger and colleagues hope that the accurate and timely identification of intracranial bleeding in infants will lead to earlier interventions that may help prevent the catastrophic outcomes often associated with AHT.

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