New device detects child abuse

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There's a new weapon in the fight against child abuse in use at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.

A device called "Retscan 3" makes clear and convincing documentation when diagnosing shaken baby syndrome.

Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara said shaken baby syndrome is easily detected because blood clots form in the retina when a child's head is shaken back and forth.

"It depends on what the case is for a shaken baby syndrome," said Iheagwara. "We're looking for retinal hemorrhages, physically bleeding inside the retina. You can see it with this machine."

Retscan 3 takes a picture of the damaged retina. Eye doctors then can attest to the accuracy of the photos and submit them to the legal system to deal with child abusers.

"Often times, when a child falls, there will not have retinal hemorrhage. It's almost impossible to get. But, with repeated shaken and sheer force, you have retina hemorrhage, so there is a clear distinction," Iheagwara explained.

In fact, the technology has already led to charges against one suspected child abuser since the hospital got the machine. It was bought with a grant designed to stop child abusers.

The child's eyes must be dilated in order to take the picture of a suspected shaken baby's retina, but the machine is dead-on when looking for bloody eyes. So, is the machine a sort of lie detector?

"Essentially, yes. A picture is worth a thousand words," Iheagwara added.

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