NIHR ARC West is starting two new projects looking at childhood head injuries. One will look at ‘shaken baby’ syndrome and other abusive head traumas inflicted on babies, while the other will focus on post-concussion syndrome among children. Both projects will explore whether it’s possible to predict which children are most at risk of sustaining these head injuries.
Paediatric abusive head trauma, which includes ‘shaken baby’ syndrome, is when a baby’s head or neck is injured from being hit or shaken. Most victims are less than a year old and the person causing the injury is usually a parent or their partner. This form of abuse affects around 35 in 100,000 babies and is almost completely preventable. It can lead to learning, visual and hearing disabilities, and in about 20 per cent of cases the baby dies.
The project on paediatric abusive head trauma will aim to:
Traumatic brain injury, when someone’s brain is injured by a blow to the head or other violent event, is the commonest cause of death and disability for people under the age of 40 in the UK. Between 33 and 50 per cent of these injuries are to children aged 15 or under.
These injuries can result in post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms include headaches and dizziness, as well as changes to emotions, behaviour and ability to think and learn. These symptoms can appear from days to months after the injury. They can be long-term and affect the child’s development and quality of life.
At the moment, it isn’t possible to predict which children are most likely to develop post-concussion syndrome. This project will aim to:
Julie Mytton, Professor of Child Health at the University of the West of England and ARC West, said: “Head injuries can have a devastating effect on young children’s lives. With these projects, we want to understand if there are any factors that make it more likely that a child will be injured in this way, and how and when we should intervene.”