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Abusive Head Trauma Has Deep, Prolonged Effect on Children

Demetria Ratchford2 years ago

New research on abusive head trauma, or AHT, published online on November 17th, 2014 in Pediatrics has found that children who are the victims of AHT are much more likely to die young and have a reduced health-related quality of life.

Details on Recent Study on Abusive Head Trauma

The study was run by Ted R. Miller, PhD from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Maryland.

According to Medscape, Miller and colleagues requested that caretakers and pediatricians anonymously respond to a survey in 2009, and the responses revealed new information.  Out of 170 survivors with AHT, 57% were blind or partially blind and 23% needed a feeding tube following the injuries.

Additionally, the study found that more than 50% of children with severe injuries by abusive head trauma aged 0 to 4 will die before they reach the age of 21. The data showed children with AHT will also have a 55% reduction in health-related quality of life.

Predictors of Abusive Head Trauma

The authors of the study stated that the shaking or abuse that causes the head trauma typically occurs before the child is a year old. 7% of cases result in death before the child is released from the hospital.

Kent Hymel, MD from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, did a second study to test whether a four-part prediction rule created by Pediatric Brain Injury Research Network Investigators, would identify AHT cases. The rule was created to identify key factors for young children with head injuries admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.

Some of the factors include: “acute respiratory compromise before admission; bruising of the torso, ears, or neck; bilateral or interhemispheric subdural hemorrhages; and any skull fractures other than of a single, unilateral, nondiastatic, linear, or parietal variety”. The prediction rule has been incredibly successful, identifying 98% of study patients who were later diagnosed with AHT.

Both studies are incredibly beneficial to the medical community, as stated by Dr. Miller and his colleagues, “These findings reinforce the significant challenge AHT cases pose for society and underline the potential benefits of effective prevention efforts. Thus, our findings strengthen the policy case for aggressive preventive intervention and for recognizing that perpetrators have committed a serious crime”.


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