Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Infants More Vulnerable to Serious Brain Injury From Falling Than Previously Thought

13.08.2003


Babies are more vulnerable to serious head injury during a fall than had been previously thought, according to new research that may also begin to help child abuse investigators distinguish between accidental and intentional injury.



Whitaker investigator Susan Margulies of the University of Pennsylvania found that rotational forces generated by a baby’s head hitting a hard surface can cause widespread, potentially serious brain injury. This can include internal bleeding, which can damage tissue and alter brain function, and nerve cell damage, which can impair thinking, sensation, and other mental functions.

Infant falls are often dismissed as relatively benign because the head is assumed to be moving in a straight line at impact, Margulies said. Linear motions are associated with such localized injuries as skull fractures.


Rotational movements, however, can produce more widespread and serious brain injury. "We found that when the head contacted a firm surface before the body, significant rotational motions were produced," Margulies said. Her study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

These findings may also help distinguish between accidental falls and injury sustained by intentionally striking a child’s head against a hard surface, although more research is needed before such results could make a clear difference in abuse investigations.

"Traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death in childhood, and child abuse is believed to be responsible for at least half of infant brain injuries," Margulies said. "While accidental falls are a frequent cause of pediatric trauma, they are also a common explanation given by caretakers in suspected abuse cases."

Margulies and her colleagues used an infant "crash test dummy" to measure rotational forces, which are rapid changes in velocity as the head contacts a hard surface and then violently rebounds. The lifelike doll resembling a 6-week-old infant is equipped with sensors to measure rotational velocity and acceleration. These forces increase with higher falls and harder surfaces.

The doll was suspended from a scaffold and allowed to fall 134 times from heights of 1, 3 and 5 feet onto surfaces commonly found in a home: a concrete floor, .25-inch-thick carpet padding, and a 4-inch-thick foam pad, simulating a crib mattress. Volunteers also shook the doll vigorously and struck its head against each of the three surfaces.

The 5-foot-fall onto concrete produced enough force to cause serious brain injury, the researchers found. But intentional head strikes onto hard surfaces produced significantly greater force.

"Based on this evidence, our data suggest that inflicted impacts are much more likely than falls or shaking to lead to brain injury," Margulies said. These injuries could include internal bleeding and prolonged or permanent nerve damage.

There has been a widespread assumption that children are the physiological equivalent of miniature adults and are affected similarly in cases of head trauma. But Margulies and others are accumulating evidence that young children do not always respond to trauma the same way adults do.

"Learning more about pediatric brain injuries will help us develop protective devices -- helmets, playground surfaces, car seats -- that better meet their specific needs," she said.

Collaborators include Michael Prange and Brittany Coats of Pennsylvania and Ann-Christine Duhaime of Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, N.H. Margulies received a Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Research Grant in 1992 for work in the lung.



Frank Blanchard | The Whitaker Foundation
Further information:
http://www.whitaker.org/news/margulies2.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>