What Is Reyes' Syndrome, and Can Similar Symptoms Indicate Child Abuse?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the expert

What is Reyes' Syndrome, and how can we distinquish this from victims of child abuse?

Doctor's response

Reye's Syndrome (RS) is a progressive and sometimes fatal disease of the liver and brain without a known cause. Reye's syndrome is associated with children having had aspirin during two common childhood diseases--chicken pox and influenza. (This is NOT "the flu" that is used generally to describe many illnesses but rather a specific viral illness associated with specific symptoms of fever, muscle pains, common respiratory problems and often pneumonia.

RS has specific neurologic abnormalities which characteristically occur in an organized sequence and there are specific laboratory blood tests which are abnormal.

As you can see there is no relationship of RS to child abuse.