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Parent-Reported Traumatic Brain Injury Common in US Kids

September 25, 2018

By Reuters Staff 

NEW YORK—More than 1.8 million children in the U.S. suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) before age 17, according to national survey data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"TBI in children has a relatively high rate of emergency department (ED) visits and risk for long-term adverse effects, creating a large public health concern," write Dr. Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa and colleagues at CDC in JAMA Pediatrics.

To get a better handle on prevalence of TBI in children, they analyzed data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health. Based on parent reports, they estimate that 2.5% of children suffer TBI up to age 17, representing more than 1.8 million children nationally.

Children with a history of TBI were more likely to have a variety of other health conditions compared with their peers without TBI, including learning disorders (21%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (21%%), speech/language problems (19%); developmental delay (15%), bone, joint, or muscle problems (14%); and anxiety problems (13%).

Parent report of TBI was more common in non-Hispanic white children, boys and those with private health insurance. There was a trend for increasing prevalence of TBI with increasing age, from less than 1% in children 0 to 4 years to 6% in those 15 to 17 years.

"Children of all backgrounds may be affected by TBI in their lifetime, highlighting the importance of inquiring about a history of TBI during well-child health care visits," write the authors. "The combination of TBI and the health conditions associated with a TBI can have a significant outcome on a child’s overall health, learning, and behavior."

The CDC team notes that the study did not examine medical records and relied on parents reporting diagnoses. The study also did not capture children who experienced a TBI but did not seek medical care.

"To produce more comprehensive estimates of TBI in children," they conclude, "nonmedical data sources will need to be expanded to capture children who do not or cannot seek treatment. A proposed system, the National Concussion Surveillance System, holds the potential for obtaining more comprehensive prevalence estimates of TBI in children."

The study had no funding and the authors have declared no conflicts of interest.


JAMA Pediatrics 2018.

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