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CDC reports increase in ED visits for concussions in children, teenagers.

A large number of media sources discussed a report showing a sizable increase in kids and teenagers visiting the emergency department (ED) for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The New York Times (10/7, B17, Zinser, Subscription Publication) reported that emergency department “visits by children and adolescents for brain injuries jumped more than 60 percent over an eight-year period, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “The report said emergency rooms recorded an increase of visits from 153,375 in 2001 to 248,418 in 2009 among those 19 years old and younger because of traumatic brain injuries sustained in recreational activities.” The study found that “the sports most likely to lead to the injuries are bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer.” The CDC’s Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, attributed the increased visits to “growing awareness among parents and coaches, and the public as a whole, about the need for individuals with a suspected [traumatic brain injury] to be seen by a health care professional.” Bloomberg News (10/7, Lopatto) reported, “Head injuries contributed to football accounting for 57 percent of trauma-related sports deaths among youths from 1980 to 2009, according to an analysis published in the journal Pediatrics in June.” The AP (10/7) noted, “In 2003, the CDC started a “Heads Up” youth concussion awareness campaign targeting doctors,” which was also “bolstered by a series of studies that began to appear around 2005 that showed damage in the brains of former National Football League players.” The Washington Post (10/7, Stein) “The Checkup” blog reported, “Brain injuries among children have gotten more attention in recent years as research has indicated that young athletes with a brain injury take longer to recover and are at greater risk of serious complications than adults, the CDC said. While brain injuries may appear mild at first, they can lead to ‘significant life-long impairment affecting an individual’s memory, behavior, learning, and/or emotions,’ the CDC said. ‘While some research shows a child’s developing brain can be resilient, it is also known to be more vulnerable to the chemical changes that occur following a TBI,’ Richard C. Hunt, director of CDC’s Division for Injury Response, said in a statement.” In “Today’s Health,” MSNBC (10/7, Carroll) reported, “There’s a national movement to protect young athletes from concussion injuries. At least 30 states have laws requiring coaches to pull injured kids from games and another 15 have legislation pending. ‘The laws have three components: education; stipulation that an athlete cannot return to play on the same day as a concussion; and a requirement that the concussed athlete must be released back to participation by a health-care provider.'”