Infants with shaken baby syndrome (SBS) are often misdiagnosed because doctors rarely receive a history that an infant has been shaken, the patients are too young to talk, and the symptoms such as vomiting and fussiness are common in many childhood illnesses.

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have found in a study that biomarkers may be able to assist in identifying infants who have a brain injury that might otherwise be missed and who would benefit from additional evaluation with a head computed tomography scan.

The study involved 98 infants who presented to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Emergency Department with one of the following symptoms: an apparent life-threatening event (near-SIDS), vomiting without diarrhea, a seizure, fussiness or irritability.

Infants had their blood or spinal fluid drawn as part of their medical evaluation, and any leftover was frozen so that the biomarker concentrations could later be measured. The infants were then tracked until 1 year of age to determine whether any were subsequently diagnosed as being abused. Researchers were then able to determine how well the biomarkers established which children had SBS, which mostly likely had a routine childhood illness, and which were possible cases of missed SBS.

"One of the interesting aspects of the study was that in many of the children who were ultimately identified as having SBS, the caretaker who brought the child to the hospital for evaluation did not know that the child had been shaken," said Dr. Berger. "It is so important for physicians to realize that the adult who brings a child to the Emergency Department may have no idea that the child is being abused by another family member, babysitter, family friend or nanny."

MEDICA.de; Source: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh