Traumatic brain injury among children in US, especially girls, surged by 20% since 2000, study finds

Traumatic brain injury among children in US, especially girls, surged by 20% since 2000, study finds

Traumatic brain injury related to consumer products has surged by over 20 per cent among US kids, especially girls, in the last two decades, according to a new study.

This type of brain injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in children in the age groups of 0-4 and 15-19, scientists from the University of Texas said.

With 308,000 average annual cases in the US, they say traumatic brain injury has become frequent among school-aged children participating in sports and playground activities that involve equipment such as football, basketball, and soccer.

The new research, published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, assessed consumer product-related traumatic brain injuries (CP-TBI) among school-aged children for a 20-year period by differentiating age groups, levels of education, and gender.

Researchers analysed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) for initial emergency department (ED) visits for CP-TBI from January 2000 to December 2019 for 6.2 million children aged 5-18 years.

They found that CP-TBI incidents, rose to more than 12 per cent of all US hospital emergency department visits by school-aged children in 2019, up from 4.5 per cent in 2000.

While the incidence rate of TBI in school-aged children increased from 2000 to 2019, peaked in 2012, and then declined in males, they say the rate has not dropped in females.

“Parents, athletic and activity staff and coaches, educators, care providers and support members, and children themselves all need more awareness and training on screening and when to seek care for minor and more severe TBI in children,” Tuan D Le, a co-author of the study, said.

“Improved point-of-care screening needs to be developed and promoted to identify and treat injuries that are not always immediately apparent,” Dr Le explained.

Public health policies and media attention may have increased risk awareness in contact sports and increased incident reporting and influenced the data, scientists suspect.

However, they say an unexpected finding was that the patterns of change after 2012 differed between males and females.

“Percentage increases were highest in females. Prevention strategies should continue, with a specific focus on reducing consumer product-related traumatic brain injury in female children,” scientists added.

They say the findings can provide fresh insights for effective preventive strategies and policies.

“Since childhood inactivity is also a serious concern, we are faced with a difficult balancing act: How do we develop awareness on how to avoid high-risk activities without discouraging children from taking part in healthy and fun exercise?” Dr Le said.