Brain Injury Increases Depression Risk Kids
October 25, 2013

Brain Injury Increases Risk Of Depression In Children Too

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Several previous studies have looked into the connection between brain injury and depression in adults, but few have focused on the connection in children.

A new study presented on Friday at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando looks to remedy that gap by analyzing data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health.

According to the study analysis, children who suffer a brain injury are twice as likely to develop symptoms of depression as their injury-free peers.

“Brain injury remains significantly associated with depression in children despite adjustment for known predictors,” the researchers wrote. “This study may enable better prognostication for brain-injured children and facilitate identification of those at high risk of depression.”

In the study, researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island identified over 2,000 children with brain injuries, a sample representative of the national child brain injury rate of 1.9 percent in 2007. They also considered data from more than 3,100 children with diagnosed depression, which is consistent with the 3.7 percent rate of depression for that year.

A preliminary analysis of the data revealed that 15 percent of those with brain injuries or concussions were diagnosed as depressed compared to other children - a nearly five-fold increase in the odds of being diagnosed with depression. After the Brown team adjusted for age, race, ethnicity, family income and structure, maternal mental health, child health, and developmental achievement, they found brain injury was still a major predictor of depression among the children.

“In the largest study of the association of brain injury and depression to date, we found an overall prevalence of depression in U.S. children of 3.7 percent,” the authors wrote. “In children diagnosed with brain injury or concussion, the prevalence of depression was 15 percent.”

"After adjustment for known predictors of depression in children like family structure, developmental delay and poor physical health, depression remained two times more likely in children with brain injury or concussion," said study author Dr. Matthew C. Wylie, from the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

He added that the study was the largest to examine an association between brain injury and depression in young people and "may enable better prognostication for brain-injured children and facilitate identification of those at high risk of depression.”

As reported in a study published in September, Norwegian scientists found that the occurrence of depression among adults with a brain injury varied greatly in previous studies, within the range of 17 percent to 53 percent.

To make a more precise determination, the study team assessed depressive symptoms at three months, one year, and five years after injury for 118 individuals between the ages of 16 and 55. Out of the entire study cohort, 66 percent had experienced a moderate to severe brain injury while just over a third had sustained a mild brain injury.

The Norwegian researchers discovered that the occurrence of depressive symptoms was 18 percent at three months, 13 percent at one year, and 18 percent at five years after a brain injury. Only four percent of the study participants reported persistent depressive symptoms throughout the set time points. Men in the study reported more symptoms of depression than women at the one year mark.