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The relationship between early childhood head injury and later life criminal behaviour: a longitudinal cohort study
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  • Published on:
    Effects of inflicted or accidental pediatric head trauma on later criminality.
    • Sergio Verd, Paediatrician La Vileta Surgery, Department of Primary Care, Balearic Health Authority, Spain.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Laura Lopez-Velasco, Senior House Officer

    To the Editor:
    Jackson et al (1) demonstrate that head injuries sustained from 0 to 7 years predict higher rates of arrest and conduct problems in young adults. We would like to highlight however, that their findings suggest that head injury of a certain type is specifically linked to juvenile offence.
    A careful examination of their work reveals a trend towards very early occurrence of head trauma that results in serious brain damage. The severity and age distribution of their dataset do not match those reported on overall (i.e. accidental and not accidental) pediatric head trauma. The British national enquiry (2) on overall pediatric head injury reports that 19% of injured children were younger than a year and that 21% of them had a Glasgow score below 15. Conversely, Jackson et al (1) show that 31% of head traumas occurred in the first year of life and that 38% of them resulted in loss of consciousness. An abundance of literature shows that, compared to children with accidental head trauma, abused children are more often < 1 year of age and hospitalized longer (3). Serious pediatric head injury in very young children is caused by inflicted trauma in a substantial number of cases. Brain hemorrhages are also markedly more common in abusive head injuries; this complication has been reported in 8-10% of children in the accident group (4), meanwhile Jackson et al (1) report the same in 18% of their subjects. Taken together, these data point at a large number...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.