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Brain Inj. 2013;27(13-14):1555-61. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2013.831126. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

Paediatric patients with abusive head trauma treated in US Emergency Departments, 2006-2009.

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  • 1Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital , Columbus, OH , USA .



To study characteristics and outcomes of paediatric patients with abusive head trauma (AHT) treated in emergency departments.


Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) data were analysed. The CDC recommended AHT definition was used to classify children ≤ 4 years with head trauma into AHT and non-AHT groups. Outcomes were compared between patients with AHT and patients with non-AHT. Logistic models were fitted to identify risk factors.


An estimated 10 773 paediatric patients with AHT were treated in EDs in 2006-2009. The average annual rate was 12.83 per 100 000 for children ≤ 4 years. Children < 1 year of age accounted for most AHT cases (60.6%) and males had a significantly higher AHT rate than females. Medicaid was the primary payer for 66.1% of AHT injuries and 40.3% of non-AHT injuries. The case mortality rate was 53.9 (95% CI = 41.0-66.7) per 1000 patients with AHT compared with 1.6 (95% CI = 1.4-1.9) per 1000 patients with non-AHT.


Child caregivers should be educated about the serious consequences of AHT and proper techniques for caring for infants. Unbiased and accurate documentation of AHT by physicians and medical coders is crucial for monitoring AHT injuries.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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