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Concussion Duration Hinted at in Spit

A team at Pennsylvania State University has developed a spit test that can gauge whether concussion symptoms in children will fade in days or stay around for weeks, NPR's Shots blog reports. The team presented its results at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

Concussion symptoms typically only last a few days, but for about a quarter of patients, headaches, fatigue, and nausea can persist for months. "Parents often say that their biggest concern is, 'When is my child going to be back to normal again?' " Penn State's Steven Hicks tells NPR. "And that's something we have a very difficult time predicting."

But the test developed by him and his colleagues, which measures microRNA fragments released by brain cells then found in saliva, was right some 90 percent of the time in its prediction of when symptoms would last a month or more, while a common survey to determine concussion severity was right less than 70 percent of the time, NPR adds.

If the test is further validated, Hicks says "a pediatrician could collect saliva with a swab, send it off to the lab and then be able to call the family the next day."