Many people believe young children are quite resilient after they are seriously hurt. The opposite may be true with traumatic brain injuries.
Two Australian studies looked at the impact of traumatic brain injury in children as young as 2 years. These studies found that TBI's affected cognitive function, IQ and behavior for some time. However, the researchers also discovered that recovery from traumatic brain injury can continue for years after the initial injury.
"Many people think that the soft skull of a baby may give them some advantage because if they fall they are not likely to sustain a skull fracture. Also, because a baby's brain is growing so quickly, it seems like the brain may be able to fix an injury. In reality, the soft skull and growing brain of a baby put them at a greater risk of future problems," said Louise Crowe, a postdoctoral research officer at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne (the lead author of one of the studies).
Crowe adds, "Children with significant head injuries do recover, but they are generally slower to learn concepts, and some high-level skills are often too difficult for them."
Results from both studies are scheduled to appear in the February issue of Pediatrics.
Most of these traumatic brain injuries do not prove to be fatal, but about one-third of children who survive the TBI will have lasting damage, report the researchers.
One of the studies shows that children who had moderate-to-severe TBIs scored lower on IQ tests by about seven to 10 points. Mild traumatic brain injuries didn't seem to significantly affect IQ. Mild and moderate-to-severe TBIs were also associated with an increased risk of behavior problems.
Additionally, it was noted that a child's home environment can positively influence recovery if the child lives in a stable, caring home.
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