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Severe Brain Injury When Young May Have Long-Term Effects
Date:1/23/2012

hildren who had sustained a traumatic brain injury before they were 3 years old, and 27 non-injured children. They followed up with these children when they were between 4 and 6 years old. The average time since the injury occurred was 40 months.

Children who had moderate-to-severe TBIs scored lower on IQ tests by about seven to 10 points, according to the study. Mild traumatic brain injuries didn't seem to significantly affect IQ. However, mild and moderate-to-severe TBIs were associated with an increased risk of behavior problems.

And, as with Anderson's study, this study also found that a child's environment has an effect on cognitive function and behavior after a brain injury.

"Children from cohesive family environments and children whose parents had lower levels of stress showed better recovery," Crowe said. "Why this is so is unclear, but it may be due to a parent spending more time with their children, and children also growing up in a less stressful environment."

One expert noted that the findings make an important point.

"We still don't understand all of the factors that affect outcomes. But, these studies do give us important data. We don't necessarily want to close the door on treating these children too soon. There may still be room for improvement over time, but there are persistent deficits," said Dr. Mandeep Tamber, an assistant professor of pediatric neurosurgery at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Crowe advised parents to be vigilant with young children. She said traumatic brain injuries can result from seemingly minor accidents, such as a baby rolling off of a bed or couch.

More information

Learn more about traumatic brain injuries from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Louise Crowe, Ph.D., postdoctoral research officer, Murdoch Childrens Research Institut
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