New studies into affect of traumatic brain injury on child’s development

January 30, 2012
Cheryl Abrahams - Partner in the Brain Injury Team

Posted by: Cheryl Abrahams


The results of two small studies, carried out in the same children’s hospital in Australia have recently been published in the journal Pediatrics with commentary provided by Dr Levin of the Bayor College of Medicine in Texas. The studies examine the long term intellectual outcome of traumatic brain injury in children.

The first study by Crowe et al followed up 53 children who had sustained traumatic brain injury (20 mild, 33 moderate to severe) before age 3 years and tested 27 healthy children with similar demographic features for comparison. The majority of the children who had sustained moderate to severe traumatic brain injury were injured in falls. The authors found that while a severe traumatic brain injury was associated with lowered intellectual function, the socioeconomic status of the child’s family was a more powerful predictor of the child’s intellectual development

The second study by Anderson et al looked at 40 children at the same hospital who had sustained a traumatic brain injury between the ages of 2-7 years. They found there were significant effects of acute traumatic brain injury severity on the IQ measured at 12 months, 30 months, and 10 years after injury. More of the injuries were sustained in road traffic accidents than in the first study and therefore the children had more severe brain injuries than in the first study. Like the first study, they found that children with mild traumatic brain injuries recovered well and didn’t face any dramatic deficit in their intellectual abilities; however children with severe traumatic brain injuries had problems with their intellectual, behavioural and social development during the follow up. Although socioeconomic background was also a predictor of intellectual level at 10 years post injury, Anderson et al’s findings indicates that traumatic brain injury severity had a stronger effect on IQ in children who ranged between 2 and 7 years at injury. In contrast to the younger sample of patients studied by Crowe et al, the moderate to severe injuries sustained by the children followed-up by Anderson and associates involved a high proportion of motor vehicle and pedestrian related injuries that cause more serious brain injuries.

Dr Levin concludes that taken together, these studies challenge views long held that young children are more resilient to the effects of traumatic brain injury on intellectual development than older children because of their greater capacity for neuroplasticity. The view that young children have greater capacity for cerebral reorganisation of function may find support in early, mild brain injuries, but not in severe traumatic brain Injuries. The data reported by Anderson et al also challenge the contention that children who sustain early traumatic brain injury “grow into their deficit”. Instead, Dr Levin states that these children’s intellectual ability does continue but there is a lag compared to healthy children, suggesting that their brains never fully recover. The full article by Dr Levin can be found at www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/129/2/e254.

If your child has suffered a brain injury in an accident and you want advice about making a compensation claim, contact Cheryl Abrahams who is a solicitor specialising in child brain injury claims for a free, no obligation consultation on free phone 0808 1596 294 or email.

Posted by: Cheryl Abrahams

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