Neurodevelopmental consequences of early traumatic brain injury in 3-year-old children

Heather T. Keenan, Stephen R. Hooper, Crista E. Wetherington, Maryalice Nocera, Desmond K. Runyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this work was to determine cognitive and adaptive behavioral outcomes of children with traumatic brain injury acquired before age 2 years and to compare outcomes between inflicted versus noninflicted brain injury. PATIENTS AND METHODS. All North Carolina children hospitalized in an ICU for a traumatic brain injury before age 2 years between the years 2000 and 2001 were eligible for study entry. A total of 112 surviving children were prospectively identified, 52 (46%) of whom had complete follow-up. Thirty-one control children were recruited from preschool settings. Control subjects were chosen to be demographically similar to case subjects. Child measures of cognition and adaptive behavior at age 3 years were measured and compared between children with and without traumatic brain injury and children with inflicted and noninflicted traumatic brain injury. RESULTS. Sixty percent of injured children were >1 SD below normal on cognitive testing. Forty percent of injured children scored >1 SD below normal on adaptive behavior testing. Children with inflicted traumatic brain injury performed more poorly on tests of cognition and adaptive behavior. Glasgow Coma Scale ≥13, absence of seizures, income above twice the poverty guidelines, and high social capital were associated with improved outcomes. Injured children had lower scores than uninjured control children after adjustment for socioeconomic status. CONCLUSIONS. Very young children with mild-to-severe traumatic brain injury as measured by the Glasgow Coma Scale are at risk for global cognitive deficits more than a year after the time of injury. Inflicted brain injury is associated with more severe injury and worse outcomes. This is less optimistic than findings in this same cohort 1 year after injury. Family characteristics seem to play a role in recovery after injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e616-e623
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Abuse
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Injury
  • Shaken baby syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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