Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about letting their children participate in contact sports such as football due to the heightened risk of brain injuries, however a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows children are more likely to experience a brain injury from other causes at every stage of life before reaching adulthood.
Instead, the most common causes of brain injuries for younger children is falling, while teenagers are more likely to suffer a brain injury from assault than from sports.
By analyzing data from 43,000 children admitted to emergency rooms for blunt force trauma between 2004 and 2006, the researchers saw that the most common cause of brain injuries changed throughout a person’s life and many of these causes are often forgotten in the public discussion.
As shown in the graphic above from NPR, children under the age of 2 were most at risk of brain injuries from varying types of falls, including falling from an elevation, falling down stairs, and falling while standing, walking, or running. This stayed largely the same for children between 2 and 12 years old. Falls from an elevation or while walking or running remained common concussion causes, became a larger problem.
However, once a child becomes a teenager, the causes of brain injuries change drastically. Falls are no longer the main culprit, as assault causes 24 percent of blunt force trauma injuries. Sports comes in second, and motor vehicle accidents also becomes a common cause of head trauma.
“It really just is the developmental stages that children are in,” Dr. Kimberly Quayle , a pediatrician at the Washington University School of Medicine and an author of the study, told NPR.