Head Injuries In Teens And Insurance: What Every Parent Needs To Know

Photo from Reigh LeBlanc

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 13 has taken an unprecedented look at the depth and the nature of head injuries in children, looking extensively at three groups in particular — children ages 12 and under, children less than 2 years of age, and children in the 13- to 17-year-old range.

While not the first study to look at head injuries, it is the first time we’ve been able to get into the specifics of what is most likely to cause mild to serious traumas. Claims Journal reports that the research group, emanating from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, looked at which incidents resulted in computerized tomography (CT) scans to assess head injuries, significant brain injuries, and neurosurgery as a form of treatment.

For children under the age of 12, falls were the most common form of cause 38 percent of the time with that number spiking to 77 percent for children under age 2. It wasn’t until the study got to children between 13 and 17 that the causes became more diverse.

The study’s lead author, Kimberly S. Quayle, MD, professor of pediatrics at Washington University, explains.

“Head injuries in adolescents most often were caused by assaults, sports activities and motor vehicle crashes,” Quayle said, adding that 24 percent were due to assault in this group while 19 percent were sports-related and 18 percent occurred as the result of motor vehicle accidents.

In the case of head injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, less than 50 percent of the injured were wearing seat belts. For those involved in bicycle accidents, less than 20 percent were wearing helmets.

“We have distilled a wide range of important features regarding blunt head trauma in children,” Quayle said. “The findings may provide reliable guideposts in developing injury-prevention measures and should help physicians in diagnosing and treating these injuries based on strong evidence.”

The data also gives parents and insurers a guide for protecting children. For instance, children are a high-risk insurance pool, especially as they get older and move towards driving age. But as the stats of this study reveal, motor vehicles are not the biggest injury cause to fear for the teenage group. While it shouldn’t be ignored and parents should emphasize the importance of safe driving and wearing a seat belt, the dangers have more to do with how children are interacting with their peers than how they’re operating a motor vehicle.

Out of the 43,999 who were part of the survey, the teen group was more likely to receive head injuries as a result of assault by a full 5 percentage reports. And even though the data doesn’t state it directly, it does imply the assaults are happening as a result of teen-on-teen violence.

Still, more parents worry about what their kid is doing behind the wheel than what they are doing at school and with whom they are associating.

In Summary

As an insurance agent, you do not bear the burden of parenting your clients’ kids. But being able to shed light on the risk factors facing their loved ones is part of why they appreciate you. Feel free to share this information with your parent customers and do your part in protecting our future. Here’s a link to CJ’s analysis of the study. Well worth the read.

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