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Is pertussis in infants a potential cause of retinal haemorrhages?
  1. Ana Isabel Curcoy1,
  2. Victoria Trenchs1,
  3. Marta Morales2,
  4. Alicia Serra2,
  5. Jordi Pou3
  1. 1Emergency Department, Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Ophthalmologic Department, Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Pediatrc Department, Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ana Isabel Curcoy, Emergency Department, Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, passeig Sant Joan de deu 2 08950, Barcelona, Spain; acurcoy{at}


Aim To determine the prevalence of retinal haemorrhages in infants with pertussis infection with the purpose of clarifying the differential diagnosis of the cases of abusive head trauma.

Methods Prospective study of children aged 15 days to 2 years admitted to our hospital with a diagnosis of pertussis over a period of 4 years (May 2004–May 2008). All children underwent one detailed ophthalmological examination within 72 h of admission. If retinal haemorrhages were detected, further investigation was undertaken to rule out systemic disorder or maltreatment.

Results 35 children with pertussis infection were examined. None was found to have retinal haemorrhages. Therefore, applying Wilson's method, the data suggest with 95% confidence that the true effect estimate for retinal haemorrhage occurring due to symptomatic pertussis infection requiring admission to hospital is no higher than 9.9%.

Conclusions Pertussis infections are unlikely to cause retinal haemorrhages in children under 2 years of age.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.