Prevalence of Brain Injuries among Children with Special Healthcare Needs

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate differences in brain injury prevalence among US children by special healthcare needs status, accounting for sociodemographic and family characteristics, and to examine correlated health conditions among children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN).

Study design

We conducted cross-sectional analyses using parent/caregiver responses to the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health (n = 50 212 children). CSHCN status was based on responses to a 5-item tool designed to identify children through assessment of functional limitations, prescription medication use, elevated service use or need, use of specialized therapies, and ongoing emotional, developmental, or behavioral conditions. Brain injury history was reported by parents/caregivers based on healthcare provider diagnosis. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted.

Results

Lifetime history of brain injury was significantly higher among CSHCN than non-CSHCN (6.7% vs 2.3%, P < .001). CSHCN make up 19% of the total US child population but comprise 42% of children with lifetime brain injuries. In addition, the prevalence of a number of comorbid conditions and functional limitations was significantly higher among CSHCN with lifetime brain injury vs those without brain injury.

Conclusions

The prevalence of lifetime history of brain injury is nearly 3 times greater among CSHCN than among non-CSHCN. Several comorbid conditions among CSHCN are significantly associated with lifetime history of brain injury. Further studies are needed to examine the extent to which brain injury in CSHCN may exacerbate or be misdiagnosed as other comorbid conditions.

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