Unintentional falls are the leading cause of pediatric traumatic brain injury

In the United States, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and injury in children. Pediatric TBI is most commonly a result of unintentional falls, and children who fall from buildings may be at particularly high risk for increased morbidity and mortality. Injuries associated with unintentional falls may be reduced with prevention-based research and intervention efforts, yet few studies have extensively investigated the risk factors and outcomes of pediatric TBI after building falls.

To address this gap in the research, a group of researchers sought to characterize the population of children who sustained TBI after falling from a building. They collected 23,813 hospital records of children under the age of 15 who had experienced an unintentional fall. After analyzing the data for factors like age, type of fall, and injury severity, the researchers found that:

  • Of children who sustained TBI from an unintentional fall, only 3.9% fell from buildings.
  • Children whose TBI was building fall-related were significantly more likely to experience severe TBI than children who had fallen in other ways.
  • More than three-quarters of the children who fell from buildings resided in urban areas at the time of injury.

Children who fall from buildings are at significantly higher risk for severe TBI than children who experience other types of falls. Furthermore, children who live in urban areas are at increased risk for this kind of injury. In the past, community health education initiatives have proved effective for reducing the incidence of pediatric injury resulting from building falls. Future research and policy-based interventions remain critical for the prevention of fall-related child TBI.

Loftus KV, Rhine T, Wade SL, et al. Characterization of children hospitalized with traumatic brain injury after building falls. Injury Epidemiology. (April 2018).

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