Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience discovered that children who have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), even if it is minor, have more emotional and behavioural issues than children who do not.
“These hits to the head are hard to study because much of it depends on recall of an injury since the impacts do not all require a visit to a doctor,” said Daniel Lopez, a PhD candidate in the Epidemiology program and first author of the study published in NeuroImage. Daniel added, “But being able to analyze longitudinal data from a large cohort and ask important questions as this gives us valuable information into how a TBI, even a mild one, impacts a developing brain.”
Researchers analysed MRI and behavioural data from hundreds of youngsters in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. They discovered that children with a moderate TBI had a 15% greater chance of developing an emotional or behavioural issue.
The danger was greatest in youngsters under the age of 10. Researchers discovered that children who had a major blow to the head but did not fulfil diagnostic criteria for a moderate TBI were at a higher risk of developing these behavioural and emotional issues.
The University of Rochester Medical Center is one of 21 study sites for the National Institutes of Health ABCD Study.
Since 2017, 340 children from the greater Rochester area have been part of the 10-year study that is following 11,750 children through early adulthood. It looks at how biological development, behaviours, and experiences impact brain maturation and other aspects of their lives, including academic achievement, social development, and overall health.
Researchers hope future ABCD Study data will better reveal the impact these head hits have on mental health and psychiatric problems.
“We know some of the brain regions associated with increased risk of mental health problems are impacted during a TBI,” said Ed Freedman, Ph.D., associate professor of Neuroscience and co-principal investigator of the ABCD Study at the University of Rochester. Freedman also led this study. “With more time and data, we hope to gain a better understanding of the long-term impact of even a mild TBI.”