Study links higher risk of ADHD with childhood brain injury

A new study says that children who suffer a brain injury are more than three times likelier to develop ADHD.

A new study says that those who suffer a brain injury in childhood may be at an increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in their teenage years, according to Reuters. While the study is not the first to link ADHD to childhood brain injuries, it is the first to suggest that young people may still be at risk of developing ADHD long after they are considered "recovered" from their injury. The study is just one more example of the growing appreciation of the harm that childhood brain injuries can lead to.

ADHD and childhood brain injuries

The study looked at data on 187 children who had been hospitalized in the United States. Of that group, 81 children had been hospitalized overnight for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) between the ages of three and seven. The remaining children, who were the control group, were hospitalized for other non-brain injuries. The study only included children who suffered serious TBIs that required overnight hospitalization.

The group was then monitored for the next seven years. In total, 48 children (26 percent of the total) went on to develop ADHD. The group that suffered TBIs were three and a half times more likely to develop ADHD than the group of children who were hospitalized for non-brain injuries.

Long-term risks of TBI

The study highlights the long-term effects that TBI can have, especially on children. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, children aged 0-4 have the highest rate of emergency room visits for TBI of any age group, followed by those aged 15 to 24 years and 5 to 14 years. While previous studies have shown a link between TBI and ADHD in childhood, those studies did not look at whether ADHD is likelier in children who have ostensibly recovered from their injuries.

The study did have limitations and was not able to prove a causal relationship between TBI and ADHD in early adolescence. The study did find, however, that children who had less severe brain injuries and who developed ADHD tended to develop ADHD more than a year after their injury. For 62 percent those who suffered a severe TBI, on the other hand, symptoms of ADHD appeared within one year of the injury.

Help for families

The above study is just further proof of the risks that young children face when they suffer a TBI. With growing awareness of these risks, it is important that children be protected from needless harm. Sadly, whether it is on youth sports teams or through an accident, children are routinely put in situations that expose them to a high risk of TBI. For parents whose children have suffered a TBI, help is available. An experienced brain injury attorney can assist clients with understanding what their options may be and whether compensation may be available.