OBJECTIVE: To provide information about children with a skull fracture in the Edinburgh area, since head injury is the single most important traumatic cause of death in children over 1 year of age. METHODS: During the period January 1983 to December 1989, all children in the Edinburgh area under 13 years of age who sustained a skull fracture were identified. Details of the children who died primarily from a head injury, and the total number of children who were admitted to hospital with a head injury not associated with a skull fracture, were also documented. Data were obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh Fiscal Office records, and Lothian Health Board records. Data on cause of injury and clinical condition were obtained. RESULTS: 3498 children under 13 years of age were admitted to hospital after sustaining a head injury and 27 died primarily as a result of their injuries; 409 children had a skull fracture and 76 of this group had cranial CT scans. Nineteen of the CT scans performed were on children who had been admitted to hospital in a coma, and all had abnormal scan findings. In addition all children with intracerebral haematomas/haemorrhages had been admitted in a coma. Road traffic accidents accounted for the greatest number of deaths (84%), associated injuries, and overall morbidity. CONCLUSIONS: To reduce the incidence of head injuries, and the associated morbidity and mortality, the following are required: identify at risk groups; promote accident prevention; publicise the findings and guidelines concerning childhood head injuries; ensure that all children with head injuries have appropriate investigations and begin treatment as early as possible; establish clinical audit; and set up regional rehabilitation teams.
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