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By On September 26th, 2018

Nearly 2 Million U.S. Kids Experience a Concussion Before Turning 17

Nearly 2 million children across America experience traumatic brain injuries before they reach 17-years-old, according to a new report published this week by the Centers for Disease Control.

“TBI in children has a relatively high rate of emergency department (ED) visits and risk for long-term adverse effects, creating a large public health concern,” said lead-author Dr. Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa and colleagues in the latest issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

The findings are the result of a large-scale analysis of data collected as part of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, which relied on patient report.

Cumulatively, the report found that approximately 2.5% or 1.8 million U.S. children will experience concussions.

This is especially worrisome as the report also confirmed that children who experience a TBI are more at risk for a variety of health issues compared to children without a history of brain injury, such as learning disorders (21%), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (21%), speech or language problems (19%), developmental delay (15%), bone, joint, or muscle problems (14%), and anxiety problems (13%).

The risk for concussions increased as the children aged, with less than 1% children between 0 and 4-years-old experiencing a concussion. For children between 15- and 17-years-old, the risk had increased to 6%.

“Children of all backgrounds may be affected by TBI in their lifetime, highlighting the importance of inquiring about a history of TBI during well-child health care visits,” write the authors. “The combination of TBI and the health conditions associated with a TBI can have a significant outcome on a child’s overall health, learning, and behavior.”

The number of concussions in children found by this report is alarming as is, but the CDC team suggests the brain injury rates may actually be significantly higher. The team had to rely on existing medical records and parents reporting diagnoses, however, there is strong evidence many children experience brain injuries without seeking medical care.

“To produce more comprehensive estimates of TBI in children,” they conclude, “nonmedical data sources will need to be expanded to capture children who do not or cannot seek treatment. A proposed system, the National Concussion Surveillance System, holds the potential for obtaining more comprehensive prevalence estimates of TBI in children.”

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