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Head injuries may increase ADHD risk in kids

If you are a parent whose child has suffered a head injury, you have every reason to be concerned.

After all, it's becoming more and more widely known that mild-to-severe brain injuries can have long-term negative effects.

But is it true that even less-severe brain injuries suffered by children can lead to enhanced risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Recent research suggests that the answer, unfortunately, is yes.

Research on children hospitalized for a TBI

A recent study in Ohio analyzed young children hospitalized for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their risk of developing ADHD. The study found that these children are indeed at higher than average risk.

The children in the study ranged in age from3 to 7. None of them had ADHD when the study began. Within seven years, however, more than 1 in 4 (26 percent) of the kids showed symptoms of ADHD.

The chances of developing ADHD were much higher for kids who had suffered TBI compared to kids who had suffered other types of injuries.

Potential consequences of traumatic brain injuries

The Centers for Disease Control warns that even a mild TBI can have a wide range of negative effects, both in the short term and the long term. These include effects on memory, reasoning, language and emotion, and increased risk of developing epilepsy or dementia.

To be sure, awareness of the problem is growing. For example, sports leagues from the youth level to the pros now have concussion protocols to follow before someone who has suffered a concussion plays again.

But even when such protocols are followed, it isn't possible to eliminate all risks. As a parent, you know you need to help your child make judgment calls about what level of risk is excessive. And with the study on ADHD we've discussed, there is now one more data point for these deliberations.

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