Falls Are a Leading Cause of Head Trauma in Children

HealthDay News — Falls are a major cause of head injuries in children ages 2 to 12, while head trauma in teens aged 13 to 17 is often the result of assault, sports and car crashes, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, the researchers used data collected from 2004 to 2006 from emergency departments in 25 U.S. hospitals. Among the children in the study, 15,908 (37% overall) had a computed tomography (CT) scan: 32% of those under 2 years of age; 32% of those aged 2 to 12; and 53% of those aged 13 to 17.

In all, 7% of those who had CT scans had a traumatic brain injury and another 3% had skull fractures, the investigators found. The most common injuries were various types of brain bleeds, with half of the children having several types of head injuries. Among all the children in the study, 78 died (0.2%). Of the children with traumatic brain injury, 17% had brain operations and 43% of those had more than one procedure.

Among children who suffered a head injury in a car accident, fewer than half were wearing a seatbelt. Children injured in bicycle accidents were wearing helmets less than 20% of the time, lead researcher Nathan Kuppermann, MD, MPH, a professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, told HealthDay.


  1. Kuppermann N et al. N Engl J Med. 2014; doi:10.1056/NEJMc1407902.