New blood test for infants

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
October 9, 2008 3:55:11 PM PDT
Taking that little one to the emergency room may soon be a less traumatic experience in some cases. One of the most common reasons parent take babies into the emergency room is because of a high fever, sometimes without a clear cause of infection.

Many of the fevers turn out to be minor and self limiting, but a proportion of babies may have serious bacterial infections like meningitis or urinary tract infections.

To determine these serious infections, doctors often have to do lots of painful tests, and sometimes even require hospitalization. New research is showing that may soon change.

"Potentially, we may be able to do one blood test and if that is positive then proceed in the more traditional manner of the extra testing. If it is negative, we may be able to observe these babies and not have to do all of these extra tests anymore," Dr. Kimberly Giuliano of the Cleveland Clinic said.

The researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston discovered that by checking the blood for a marker called procalcitonin, they can determine which babies have the more serious bacterial infections.

Pediatrician Dr. Giuliano says the test could not only save healthcare dollars, but will also be good for the babies.

"It could save the babies a lot of extra pokes and harmful prcedures," she said.

The study involving this research was published in the journal Pediatrics. The test will now be double checked in a larger study, but the researchers say they hope it becomes a standard tool for an effective evaluation of young infants with fever.

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