Sarah Jane Brain Project at Children's Hospital Could Detect Babies' Brain Injuries

Article excerpt

Often the babies come into emergency rooms and doctors' offices with no symptoms other than they're fussy and vomiting, which could indicate common illnesses ranging from colic to ear infections.

But if a baby is a victim of a brain injury caused by violent shaking and is sent home with a stomach flu diagnosis, he or she could die.

Children's Hospital of UPMC in Lawrenceville is Pennsylvania's "Lead Center of Excellence" in the Sarah Jane Brain Project, a national initiative to raise awareness about pediatric traumatic brain injuries. On Friday, project officials will present a report on brain injuries to the Obama administration and request money for research and to establish a standard of care.

"If you send a baby who has been abused back to an abusive home, the rate of re-injury is very high," said Dr. Rachel Berger, an injury research physician in Children's Hospital's Child Advocacy Center. "But it's hard to do an exam on a 2-month-old. It is a really hard clinical problem: How do you guess which of those hundreds of fussy, vomiting babies you see needs a head CT?"

Berger hopes the push for awareness and funding will help a research project she undertook to determine through a blood test if a baby is likely to have a brain injury that would justify subjecting the infant to radiation from a brain scan. …