Retinal haemorrhage in infants investigated for suspected maltreatment is strongly correlated with intracranial pathology
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionActa Paediatrica. 2021 10.1111/apa.16139
Aim To test the two prevailing hypotheses regarding the aetiology of infant retinal haemorrhage: (a) traction forces exerted by the lens and/or corpus vitreum on the retina during infant shaking or (b) retinal vessel leakage secondary to intracranial pathology and raised intracranial pressure. Methods Comparison of medical findings and reported type of trauma in infants investigated for suspected physical abuse with presence (n = 29) or non-presence of retinal haemorrhage (RH) (n = 119). Results Intracranial pathology was recorded in 15 (13%) of the non-RH cases and in 27 (97%) of the RH cases (p < 0.0001). All 18 infants with bilateral RH had intracranial pathology. Of 27 infants subjected to witnessed or admitted shaking, two were in the group with RH. One had a single unilateral RH and no intracranial pathology. The other had bilateral RH and intracranial pathology with non-specific white matter changes, acute subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhages, and suspected cortical venous thrombosis. In 15 RH cases, there was no trauma reported and no findings other than RH and intracranial pathology. Accidental blunt head trauma was reported in 7 RH cases. Conclusion The present study indicates that RH in infants is secondary to intracranial pathology of non-specific aetiology.