Children With Brain Injury Twice as Likely to Suffer Depression

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There has been a huge amount of research into traumatic brain injuries over the last decade. The massive number of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan spurred a government interest in improving detection and treatment of the disease. Then, the NFL and the controversy associated with the high number of brain injuries being caused in young athletes brought the issue to the forefront of the public’s mind.

Surprisingly, almost all of this research has been done exclusively on adults. Until recently, Susan Scutti says there has been very little data involving the effects of brain injuries on children. Researchers from Brown University sought to correct this and undertook a study to discover just how brain injuries impact the lives of the young people who suffer them. What they discovered should worry parents across the country.

It has long been assumed that children suffer more severe symptoms for longer duration than the adults who deal with TBI. On top of that, the survey finds that children who have been dealt brain injury or concussion were twice as likely to develop symptoms of depression than their peers.

“Brain injury remains significantly associated with depression in children despite adjustment for known predictors,” wrote the authors. “This study may enable better prognostication for brain-injured children and facilitate identification of those at high risk of depression.”

The team evaluated data gathered from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health and identified 2,034 children who had suffered a brain injury, corresponding with the expected prevalence of the condition at the time. The then found a total of 3,112 children who had been diagnosed with depression.

When compared against each other at first, the results showed that children with brain injury were 4.9 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression. However, after adjusting for race, age, ethnicity, family income and structure, and numerous other factors, the researchers still found children with brain injury were twice as likely to deal with depression.

“In the largest study of the association of brain injury and depression to date, we found an overall prevalence of depression in U.S. children of 3.7 percent,” wrote the authors in an abstract of their study. “In children diagnosed with brain injury or concussion, the prevalence of depression was 15 percent.”

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