Trends in Emergency Department Visits for Contact Sports–Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Children — United States, 2001–2018
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Trends in Emergency Department Visits for Contact Sports–Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Children — United States, 2001–2018

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
    • Description:
      During 2010-2016, there were an average of 283,000 U.S. emergency department (ED) visits each year among children for sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (SRR-TBIs); approximately 45% of these SRR-TBIs were associated with contact sports (1). Although most children with an SRR-TBI are asymptomatic within 4 weeks, there is growing concern about potential long-term effects on a child's developing brain (2). This has led to calls to reduce the risk for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among child athletes, resulting in the introduction of state policies and the institution of safety rules (e.g., age and contact restrictions) for some sports programs. To assess changes in the incidence of ED-related SRR-TBI among children, CDC analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) for the period 2001-2018. After more than a decade of increasing rates, the rate of contact sports-related TBI ED visits declined 32% from 2012 to 2018. This reduction was primarily the result of a decline in football-related SRR-TBI ED visits during 2013-2018. Decreased participation in tackle football (3) and implementation of contact limitations (4) were likely contributing factors to this decline. Public health professionals should continue to expand efforts to address SRR-TBIs in football, which is the sport with the highest incidence of TBI, and identify effective prevention strategies for all sports to reduce TBIs among children.
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