Aim: To describe the presenting characteristics, type of injury and hospital course in young children with traumatic head injury, and to identify characteristics indicating that the trauma was inflicted.
Methods: A retrospective medical record review of 91 children less than 3 years of age who were admitted to a tertiary teaching hospital in Norway from 1995 through 2005 with a traumatic head injury. Patients were identified by diagnostic codes, and categorized by type of injury as skull fractures (n = 39), epidural haemorrhage (EDH) (n = 12), subdural haemorrhage (n = 27) and parenchymal brain injury (n = 13). Further the cases were classified as inflicted injury (n = 17), accident (n = 35) or indeterminate (n = 39).
Results: The mechanism of injury was similar for EDHs and isolated skull fractures, and none were classified as inflicted. Sixty-three percent of the cases with subdural haematoma were classified as inflicted. When compared to the accident group, children in the inflicted group more frequently had subdural haemorrhage without a skull fracture (OR = 6.9, CI = 1.7-28.2), and seizures (OR = 9.5, CI = 2.1-43.3).
Conclusions: Inflicted and accidental head injuries differed in presenting characteristics and injury type. Nearly two-third of the subdural haemorrhages were classified as inflicted, but none of the epidural EDHs or skull fractures. Inflicted injuries tended to present with seizures.