Is Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Associated with Adult Alcohol Misuse?

J Neurotrauma. 2020 Jul 15;37(14):1637-1644. doi: 10.1089/neu.2019.6897. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


Evidence suggests that pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be causally related to alcohol misuse later in life; however, the nature and extent of the association has not been well described. This study examined the relationship between pediatric TBI and adult alcohol misuse in a population sample ≥20 years of age. We sought to determine (1) whether first self-reported incidence of TBI with loss of consciousness (LOC) before the age of 20 increased the risk for alcohol misuse later in life; and (2) whether sex, injury severity, and age at time of injury modified the association. We found a greater likelihood of binge but not heavy drinking for those whose first self-reported TBI with LOC occurred before the age of 20 when compared with those whose first self-reported TBI with LOC occurred later in life (28.5% vs. 20.4%, p = 0.003). When limited to those with only mild TBI, the relationship to binge drinking remained significant (31.9% vs. 19.3%, p < 0.001) and was evident for both males (38.4% vs. 25.6%, p = 0.016) and females (20.9% vs. 12.4%, p = 0.044). When controlling for sex, age, and race/ethnicity, reporting a first TBI with LOC before age 20 was associated with binge drinking only for those with mild TBI (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.32; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00-1.74). Results also showed that those with first TBI with LOC occurring between the ages of 10 and 19 years were more likely to binge drink as adults than those first injured earlier in life, regardless of TBI severity. Further research is needed at both the epidemiological and pre-clinical levels to better understand this relationship.

Keywords: TBI; alcohol drinking; health surveillance data; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.