Washington, Oct 6 : Researchers from at Children's Hospital Boston, along with team at George Washington University, have developed new blood test that may help doctors detect serious bacterial infections (SBIs) in infants.
The new diagnostic marker called procalcitonin can help in detecting SBIs such as urinary tract and blood stream infections in babies, and thereby reduce the need for unnecessary aggressive testing, medication and hospitalisation.
During the study, the researchers used a novel procalcitonin test, recently approved by the FDA, in 234 feverish babies under three months of age, of whom 18 percent had definite or possible SBIs confirmed by independent clinical criteria.
They found that procalcitonin not only detected all cases of SBIs in feverous infants but proved sensitive enough to establish a threshold value that would identify infants at low risk for serious infections.
As clinicians cannot reliably determine which children with fever have more serious infections, many babies end up undergoing extensive evaluations.
Routine evaluation of infants less than three months of age includes blood tests, urine tests, and often a lumbar puncture for spinal fluid, followed by treatment in the hospital with antibiotics.
The inefficiency of current fever management in young infants prompted Richard Bachur, MD, acting chief of emergency medicine at Children's and colleagues to sought a rapid diagnostic test that will determine which children have serious infections at the first visit to the Emergency Department.
"We hope to identify those infants that are at very low risk of serious infection and tailor their evaluation so as to minimize invasive testing and exposure to unnecessary antibiotics," said Bachur.
The high sensitivity of the new procalcitonin test has allowed Bachur and colleagues to establish realistic cut-off values to help guide clinicians in identifying children who are at low risk for SBIs.
The study is published in the October Pediatrics.