A traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident, fall or another traumatic event can be devastating, especially when the accident victims are children, new research shows.
Two small studies published recently in the journal Pediatrics suggest that, contrary to past belief, severe traumatic brain injuries occurring in very young children often lead to harmful effects on brain development.
The first study found that children who had experienced a severe traumatic brain injury before the age of three typically suffered from lowered intellectual function.
Strangely, the study also found that the child’s socioeconomic status also played an important role in the child’s intellectual development, with children of a lower socioeconomic status faring the worst.
The study also concluded that less severe, less traumatic brain injuries did not appear to negatively affect a child’s cognitive functions. This is good news for children who have suffered less serious injuries, like short falls.
The second study, which was conducted on children who had suffered from more severe traumatic brain injuries between the ages of two and seven, suggested that the injuries often caused a “lag” in the cognitive development of the children over a period of 10 years.
For years, doctors have believed that children are not as vulnerable to the detrimental effects of traumatic brain injuries. However, these studies suggest that depending on the severity of their injuries, children can suffer lasting effects on cognitive development from serious falls and accidents.
Very young children are also particularly at risk of traumatic brain injuries related to falls because of their lack of balance and general sense of danger. Therefore, parents need to keep their children away from environments where serious falls could occur.
Source: CNN, “Severe traumatic brain injury affects development in young children,” Jan. 23, 2012