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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574

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LACK, V et al. The epidemiology of traumatic brain injuries sustained by children under 10 years of age presenting to a tertiary hospital in Soweto, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.8, pp.789-795. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/samj.2021.v111i8.15553.

BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the paediatric population is a significant contributor to death and disability worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, death and disability from TBI are still superseded by infectious disease. Mechanisms of injury differ by region and socioeconomics, but in general, falls, road traffic collisions (RTCs), being 'struck by/against objects' and non-accidental injuries (NAIs) are responsible for most casesOBJECTIVES: To: (i) quantify the burden of TBI in terms of demographics, causes and severity; (ii) explore resource utilisation regarding length of stay, computed tomography (CT) brain scan use and multidisciplinary participation; (iii) interrogate possible temporal patterns of injury; and (iv) thus identify potential targets for community-based prevention strategiesMETHODS: In a 5-year retrospective review of all children aged <10 years admitted with TBI between September 2013 and August 2018, demographics, date of injury, mechanism of injury, severity of TBI based on the Glasgow Coma Scale, and requirement for a CT brain scan were collected for each patient. Outcomes were reported as discharge, transfer or death. Outcomes for children sustaining isolated TBI were compared with those for children sustaining TBI with polytraumaRESULTS: A total of 2 153 patients were included, with a mean (standard deviation) age of 4.6 (2.7) years and a male/female ratio of 1.7:1. RTCs were the most frequent cause of injury at 59% (80% of these were pedestrian-vehicle collisions), followed by falls at 24%. Mild TBIs accounted for 87% of admissions, moderate injuries for 6%, and severe injuries for 7%. Polytrauma was associated with increased severity of TBI. The cohort had a 2.3% mortality. NAIs accounted for 6% of injuries and carried a 4% mortality. The median (interquartile range) duration of hospitalisation was 1(1-3) days, ranging from <24 hours to 132 days. CT scans were performed on 43% of admitted patients, and 48% of patients had consultations with another medical or allied medical discipline. Injuries were more frequent during the summer months and over weekends. Infants aged < 1 year were identified as a group particularly vulnerable to injury, specifically NAICONCLUSIONS: Paediatric TBI was demonstrated to be a resource-intensive public health concern. From the results, we identified potential primary prevention targets that could perhaps be incorporated into broader community-based intervention programmes. We also identified a need to study long-term consequences of mild TBI further in our paediatric population

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