Traumatic brain injury mortality among U.S. children and adolescents ages 0–19 years, 1999–2017

Academic Article


  • Introduction: To examine recent traumatic brain injury (TBI) mortality changes among Americans aged 0–19 years by sex, age, urbanicity, state, and intent/causes of injury. Method: TBI mortality per 100,000 population and average annual percent changes (AAPCs), plus 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on Joinpoint regression models. Results: Age-adjusted TBI mortality among Americans aged 0–19 years declined consistently, though at varying rates between 1999 and 2013 (AAPC = −4.8%, 95%CI: −6.3%, −3.2%), and then significantly increased from 4.42 per 100,000 population in 2013 to 5.17 per 100,000 population in 2017 (AAPC = 3.4%, 95% CI: 1.7%, 5.1%). During the study time period, boys, rural children, and youth aged 15–19 years had higher TBI mortality rates than girls, urban children, and younger children, respectively. TBI mortality from unintentional transport crashes decreased substantially in all age groups between 1999 and 2017, and especially from 1999 to 2010. TBI mortality from suicide increased significantly from 2008 to 2017 in the 10–14-year age group (AAPC = 14.6%, 95% CI: 12.6%, 16.6%) and from 2007 to 2017 in the 15–19-year age group (AAPC = 6.3%, 95% CI: 3.8%, 8.7%). Unintentional transport crashes were the leading cause of TBI-related mortality in 46 states in 1999, but by 2017, suicide became the first leading cause in 14 states. Conclusions: Pediatric TBI mortality declined consistently between 1999 and 2013 and increased significantly from 2013 to 2017, driven primarily by the mortality decrease from unintentional transport crashes and increase in suicide mortality. The spectrum of leading causes of pediatric TBI mortality changed across age groups and over time from 1999 to 2017. Practical Applications: TBI mortality increases in the United States since 2013 are driven primarily by increasing suicide rates, a trend that merits the attention of policy-makers and injury researchers. Action should be taken to curb growing TBI mortality rates among adolescents aged 10–19 years.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cheng P; Li R; Schwebel DC; Zhu M; Hu G
  • Start Page

  • 93
  • End Page

  • 100
  • Volume

  • 72