Are traumatic brain injuries in kids associated with later ADHD?

March 19, 2018

Bottom Line: Severe traumatic brain injury in children was associated with increased risk for later onset of attention-deficit/hyperactivity up to about seven years after injury.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) sends more than 1 million children, adolescents and young adults to emergency departments every year in the United States. ADHD is the most common psychiatric disorder among children with a history of TBI. Risk factors for secondary ADHD, which has its onset after an injury such as a TBI, are not well understood. This study examined the development of secondary ADHD five to 10 years after injury in children with TBI compared with a control group of children who had sustained orthopedic injuries.

Who and When: 187 children between the ages of 3 and 7 hospitalized overnight for TBI or orthopedic injury at four hospitals in Ohio from 2003 to 2008 and whose parents completed assessments up to almost seven years after injury

What (Study Measures): Diagnosis of secondary ADHD was the main outcome.

How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Because researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain the study findings.

Authors: Megan E. Narad, Ph.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio, and coauthors

Results: Of the 187 children, 48 (25.7 percent) met the definition of secondary ADHD; severe TBI was associated with increased risk.

Study Limitations: All reports, including ADHD symptoms, history of diagnosis and prescribed medication, were based on parent reports.

Study Conclusions: Early childhood TBI was associated with increased risk for secondary ADHD. This finding supports the need for postinjury monitoring for attention problems.
For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.


Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

JAMA Pediatrics

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