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Study Finds Higher Risk of Disorders After TBI in Children

SACRAMENTO, California — A new study published in Pediatrics on January 25, 2024 indicates that TBI in children causes an elevated risk of developing affective or behavioral disorders for up to four years following the injury. The research, led by Richard L. Delmonico, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center in California, sheds light on the long-term consequences of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in the pediatric population.

As a cohort study, the research focused on mTBI cases among individuals aged 17 and younger, diagnosed between 2000 and 2014. The study included 18,917 cases and 37,834 controls, randomly selected and matched for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and date of medical visit within an integrated healthcare system.

The findings revealed that in the first three years post-injury, the adjusted risks for affective disorders were notably higher in the mTBI group, particularly during the second year, showing a 34% increase in risk. Adjusted risks for behavioral disorders were significant in both the second and fourth years, demonstrating an up to 37% increase in risk. Moreover, the study highlighted that the risk of post-injury affective and behavioral disorders was most pronounced among patients aged 10 to 13 years.

The authors of the study emphasized, “Sustaining mTBI significantly increased the risk of having a new affective or behavioral disorder up to four years after injury.” They recommend the implementation of initial and ongoing screening for affective and behavior disorders in children and adolescents who have experienced mTBI. They argue that identifying persistent conditions early on is crucial for addressing potential barriers to recovery in this vulnerable population.

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