Social-emotional behaviour in infants and toddlers with mild traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2012;26(7-8):1005-13. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2012.660516. Epub 2012 May 25.


Background: Paediatric head trauma is a serious health concern often leading to neurological, behavioural and cognitive impairments. In Estonia head trauma incidence is especially high in children up to 4 years.

Objective: The aim was to investigate young children's pre-injury social-emotional behaviour to discover potential risk signs for brain trauma and to study social-emotional outcome 9 months post-injury.

Methods: Thirty-five 3-65 month old children with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and 70 matched controls were retrospectively assessed with child monitoring system Ages and Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional. During follow-up 27 patients and 54 controls were re-assessed after 9 months.

Results: Children with MTBI showed altered social-emotional development already before the injury. Deficits were evident in self-regulation and autonomy. Age-specific social-emotional risk signs for MTBI were found. Compared to controls more pre-injury affective problems were seen in 12-month olds, self-regulation, and communication difficulties in 30-month olds and autonomy disturbances in 60-month old children. 9 months post-injury impairments in autonomy and self-regulation were still present and new difficulties in interaction had developed.

Conclusions: Childhood MTBI has a serious negative effect on further development of interaction skills. To prevent possible traumas, parents should be informed of different age-specific pre-injury social-emotional risk signs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Headache / diagnosis*
  • Headache / physiopathology
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires