According to Health Day News on Friday, a new study has found that children who've suffered a concussion or other head injury seem to have a much higher-than-average rate of depression.
Adults with head injuries are known to be at high risk for depression, and yet little research had been done on the topic related to children. In the abstract, "Depression in Children Diagnosed with Brain Injury or Concussion," presented Oct. 25 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, researchers sought to identify the prevalence of depression in children with brain injuries, including concussions, in the U.S.
Using data from a U.S. health survey, researchers found that children and teenagers who'd ever sustained a brain injury were much more likely to have ever been diagnosed with depression,.
Overall, 15 percent had received that diagnosis, while the national prevalence was less than 4 percent, the investigators noted.
The finding does not prove that kids' head injuries caused the depression, said Keith Yeates, a pediatric neuropsychologist, but there is a "well-documented" connection between brain injury, particularly more severe ones, and depression in adults.
The study, the largest to look at an association between brain injury and depression in children and adolescents, "may enable better prognostication for brain-injured children and facilitate identification of those at high risk of depression," said Dr. Matthew C. Wylie, lead author of the abstract.
The study had a number of limitations, both Wylie and Yeates pointed out.
One is that "brain injury" and "concussion" were lumped together into one question, Yeates noted. So it's not possible to tell whether kids who suffered mild concussions had the same depression risk as those with more serious brain injuries.
It's likely that more severe injuries would carry a greater risk, Wylie said. But that's a question for future studies, he added.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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