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19-12-2011 | Article

Headache common following traumatic brain injury in children


Free abstract

MedWire News: Headache is common in children and adolescents who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), research shows.

The increase in headaches following a TBI is most evident in adolescents and in girls, report investigators.

"Our findings indicate that many children and adolescents suffer from TBI-associated headaches yearly," states Heidi Blume (University of Washington, Seattle, USA) in a press release accompanying the study. "In addition, the prevalence of headache following mild TBI appears to follow a pattern we see in primary headache disorders such as a migraine."

In adults, headache is common after TBI and concussion, with as many as one-third of adults reporting headaches 1 year after the injury. It tends to be reported more frequently following mild TBI than moderate or severe injuries.

In this study, published in Pediatrics, Blume and colleagues assessed the prevalence of headache at 3 and 12 months following TBI in children aged 5 to 17 years old. Of these children, 402 sustained mild TBI and 60 sustained moderate or severe TBI. The control arm included 122 children who had an arm injury.

Three months following the injury, headache was reported in 43% of children who suffered a mild TBI, in 37% of children with moderate/severe TBI, and in 23% of the control group. In multivariate analysis, mild TBI was associated with a significant 70% increased risk for headache at 3 months compared with controls.

Stratifying by gender, the researchers report that girls, and not boys, had a significant 2.4-fold increased risk for headache at 3 months compared with the control group.

Adolescent children, those aged 13 to 17 years old, had a significant 1.8-fold increased risk for headache at 3 months, whereas younger children did not. By contrast, the prevalence of headache was a significant twofold increased in younger children following a moderate or severe TBI, but not in the overall cohort, and not in adolescents.

At 1 year, headache was reported in 41% of children with mild TBI, 34% of children with moderate/severe TBI, and in 34% of controls. The between-group differences were not statistically significant.

Overall, the study suggests that the response to and recovery from TBI is different in children, adolescents, and adults, say the researchers.

"What parents need to know is that some children with TBI may have headaches for several weeks or months after TBI, but that most recover with time," said Blume.

By MedWire Reporters