In a large data report study, published in Brain Injury, researchers investigated the products and activities associated with non-fatal traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents up to the age of 19 years.
From the nationally representative sample of 66 US hospitals’ emergency departments, researchers discovered that floors, beds and American football are some of the greatest risks.
The team of researchers reviewed approximately 4.1 million cases of pediatric traumatic brain injuries over 4 years, from 2010–2013. Out of all the cases across all age groups, 72% were caused by consumer products that are regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Structural designs, such as uneven flooring, often contribute to falls, which is the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in children,” commented lead author Dr Bina Ali from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (MD, USA).
She added: “In most cases, infants and children are safe in bed and when playing sports outside, but our study highlights some of the risks and the priorities in different age groups for preventing serious head injuries.”
When reviewing the injury surveillance reports, the researcher divided the data into five age groups. In infants under 1 year, one-quarter of traumatic brain injuries were caused by falling from beds, while floors were the second leading cause at 14%.
In children aged 1–4 years, most injuries were caused by beds, stairs and floors, with each of them causing 10% of injuries.
As older children become more mobile, the leading causes of injury move outside the home. At age 5–9 years, floors are still the leading cause (6%), however, bicycle accidents came second at 5%.
In the final two age groups, 10–14 years and 15–19 years, American football was the leading cause of injury at 14% and 9% respectively, whilst basketball came second at 6% and 5% respectively.
“Simple measures such as removing trip hazards, using stair gates and guard rails, avoiding hard surface playgrounds and wearing helmets could help reduce the risk of injury, as well as adult education to ensure proper use of consumer products and adherence to safety guidelines” concluded Ali.
This study only included patients treated in hospital emergency departments and due to a lack of information researchers were unable to investigate where injuries were sustained. Future studies would be needed to investigate how injuries vary by socioeconomical status.
Sources: Ali B, Laurence BA, Miller T, Allison J. Products and activities associated with non-fatal traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents – United States 2010–2013. Brain Inj. 33(11), 1425–1429 (2019); https://newsroom.taylorandfrancisgroup.com/nearly-three-quarters-of-traumatic-brain-injuries-in-children-and-adolescents-caused-by-consumer-products/