What Are the Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
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Traumatic brain injury in children is a relatively common occurrence that can have devastating effects on both the patient and the family. Some of the most common causes of this type of head injury include automobile accidents, bicycle crashes, and falls. Sports injuries and child abuse are also responsible for many cases of traumatic brain injury in children. While most head injuries do not result in injury to the brain, each injury should be evaluated by a doctor to ensure that there is no damage to the brain.

Automobile accidents and bicycle crashes are leading causes of traumatic brain injury in children. These injuries cannot always be prevented, although there are some basic safety measures that can lower the chances of sustaining injury to the brain. Seat belts or car seats should be used to restrain children while riding in an automobile. This lowers the chances of the child being thrown from the vehicle in the event of an accident and greatly reduces the risk of brain injury. Similar safety measures, such as wearing a helmet, should be employed when riding a bicycle.


Accidental falls, especially from high elevations, are prone to causing traumatic brain injury in children. Blows to the head through sports-related injuries may also cause damage to the brain. Falls can often be prevented by careful observation by caregivers and avoiding situations where the child is exposed to extreme heights. Safety gear should be worn during contact sports in order to protect the head from accidental injury.

Child abuse is frequently the cause of traumatic brain injury in children. There are many possible ways to inflict damage to the delicate brain of a child, including direct blows to the head, pushing, or shaking. A condition known as shaken baby syndrome is the most common cause of traumatic brain injury in children due to child abuse and is especially common among infants.

Shaken baby syndrome occurs when a child's head is quickly accelerated or rotated, as often occurs when being shaken. Blood clots often develop on the brain, and the brain may swell so much that it presses against the skull, often leading to permanent brain damage. Emergency surgery is usually needed in an effort to save the life of the child, although this condition is frequently fatal. Parental education and anger-management training are a major asset in preventing this type of traumatic brain injury in children.



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