The Presence of Anemia in Children with Abusive Head Trauma

Katelyn M. Even, Subramanian Subramanian, Rachel P. Berger, Patrick M. Kochanek, Giulio Zuccoli, Barbara A. Gaines, Ericka L. Fink

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2 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the incidence of anemia in patients with abusive head trauma (AHT), noninflicted traumatic brain injury (TBI), and physical abuse without AHT and the effect of anemia on outcome. Study design: In a retrospective, single-center cohort study, we included children under the age of 3 years diagnosed with either AHT (n = 75), noninflicted TBI (n = 77), or physical abuse without AHT (n = 60) between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2016. Neuroimaging was prospectively analyzed by pediatric neuroradiologists. Primary outcome was anemia at hospital presentation. Secondary outcomes included unfavorable outcome at hospital discharge, defined as a Glasgow Outcome Scale between 1 and 3, and intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) volume. Results: Patients with AHT had a higher rate of anemia on presentation (47.3%) vs noninflicted TBI (15.6%) and physical abuse without AHT (10%) (P < .001). Patients with AHT had larger ICH volumes (33.3 mL [10.1-76.4 mL] vs 1.5 mL [0.6-5.2 mL] ; P < .001) and greater ICH/total brain volume percentages than patients with noninflicted TBI (4.6% [1.4-8.2 %] vs 0.2% [0.1-0.7%]; P < .001). Anemia was associated with AHT (OR, 4.7; 95% CI, 2.2-10.2) and larger ICH/total brain volume percentage (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.1-1.2) in univariate analysis. Unfavorable outcome at hospital discharge was associated with anemia (OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 1.6-12.6) in univariate analysis, but not after controlling for covariates. Conclusions: Patients with AHT were more likely to present to the hospital with anemia and increased traumatic ICH volume than patients with noninflicted TBI or physical abuse without AHT. Children with anemia and AHT may be at increased risk for an unfavorable outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-155.e2
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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