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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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What are the causes of and risk factors for BI

Children experience head injuries frequently throughout the United States and account for many visits by children to emergency rooms.

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Thankfully, the vast majority of these injuries are mild in severity. Often children suffering minor head injuries do not seek medical attention, leaving them at risk of potential brain trauma that may only manifest years later.

However, there are still many instances of BI which vary in severity from mild concussions to serious brain traumas. Here we examine some of the causes and risks factors for BI in children.

The Causes of Brain Injury

According to the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, most brain injuries under the age of 5 are caused by falls. Older children incur brain injuries mostly as a result of falling off bicycles and during other recreational activities.

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Many brain injuries occur as a result of car accidents when children are passengers, cyclists or pedestrians. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of severe brain trauma. Approximately 10 percent of all pediatric head injuries are the result of child abuse. For infants, this percentage is even higher.

Injuries from sporting activities are common, although severe brain injury is rare under the age of 12. The incidence of minor head injuries incurred during contact sports is fairly widespread amongst children. As these are seen as a normal part of these sports, many go unreported and untreated.

Risk Factors Associated With Pediatric Brain Injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children aged 0 to 4 years old and those aged 15 to 19 are the two groups that have the greatest risk for experiencing a traumatic BI. During the period from 2007 to 2013, of children under the age of 19, an average of 62,000 per annum are admitted to hospital with brain injuries from all causes.

After the age of 5, boys are more likely to sustain brain injuries than girls. This could be related to the fact that boys tend to participate in more risky activities than their female counterparts.

Children have thinner skulls than adults. Together with the relatively large size of their heads and poor head control, young children are seen to have a greater risk of head and brain injury.

Children who play contact sports may be open to a higher risk of BI. Often, minor injuries are not reported, and blows and bangs to the head in subsequent games can lead to a condition called “second impact syndrome.” This syndrome arises with a repeated knock to the head, causing a swelling in the brain and an increased risk of irreversible brain damage. Those athletes who have previously suffered one head injury are at significantly higher risk of sustaining another BI in subsequent games.

The CDC reports that the leading cause of death from BI in infants under the age of 4 in 2013 was child abuse and assaults. This age group also recorded the highest number of all pediatric age groups of emergency department visits for brain related injuries.