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Falls at home, football cause most children's head injuries

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HealthDay News
Football was involved in 14 percent of traumatic brain injury cases among 10- to 14-year-olds, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of HealthDay News
Football was involved in 14 percent of traumatic brain injury cases among 10- to 14-year-olds, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of HealthDay News

Falls from beds, uneven floors and playing football are leading causes of nonfatal brain injuries in American kids, new research shows.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on traumatic brain injuries among kids and teens treated at emergency departments of 66 U.S. hospitals between 2010 and 2013.

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Of those cases, 72 percent were attributable to products regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, according to the report published July 29 in the journal Brain Injury.

"Structural designs, such as uneven flooring, often contribute to falls, which is the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in children," said lead author Bina Ali. She is a research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md.

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"In most cases, infants and children are safe in bed and when playing sports outside, but our study highlights some of the risks and the priorities in different age groups for preventing serious head injuries," Ali explained in a journal news release.

Young people account for about 1 million nonfatal traumatic brain injury cases treated in emergency departments each year, the researchers noted.

In infants under a year old, one-quarter of such injuries were caused by falling from beds. Uneven floors were the second-leading cause at 14 percent.

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Among 1- to 4-year-olds, 10 percent of injuries involved beds; 10 percent involved stairs; and 10 percent were related to floors. Bunk beds are especially risky, the findings showed.

Between 5 and 9 years of age, floors were still the leading cause (6 percent) of head injuries, and bicycle accidents were second at 5 percent.

For older kids, football was the leading cause of traumatic brain injury -- involved in 14 percent of cases among 10- to 14-year-olds and 9 percent for 15- to 19-year-olds. Basketball was the second-leading cause in these age groups, at 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

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Other activities that caused traumatic brain injuries in those two age groups included bicycles (5 percent in kids aged 10 to 14, and 3 percent in teens aged 15 to 19) and soccer (5 percent and 4 percent, respectively).

"Simple measures, such as removing trip hazards, using stair gates and guard rails, avoiding hard-surface playgrounds, and wearing helmets could help reduce the risk of injury, as well as adult education to ensure proper use of consumer products and adherence to safety guidelines," Ali advised.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about traumatic brain injury in children.

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