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Approximately 812,000 children living in the United States experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) – a disruption in normal brain function caused by an external mechanical force – each year. TBI is a serious injury, eliciting both acute and chronic damage to the brain. Findings from a recent study suggest that children who experience a TBI, even a mild one, are more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems.

The study involved nearly 12,000 children enrolled in the Adolescence Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. The children underwent magnetic resonance imaging studies of their brains and completed questionnaires about their emotional and behavioral health.

The investigators found that children that experienced a mild TBI were 15 percent more likely to display emotional or behavioral problems compared to their non-injured peers. Children who experienced a significant hit to the head that didn’t meet the criteria of a TBI diagnosis were 7 percent more likely to develop behavioral and emotional problems. The age at which the TBI occurred influenced risk, with children around the age of 10 years at greatest risk.

These findings suggest that even mild TBI carries considerable risk to the developing brain, placing children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems. Oxidative stress is a key driver in the pathological processes associated with TBI. Sulforaphane, a bioactive compound derived from broccoli, promotes the production of glutathione, a potent endogenous antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress. Learn more in this clip featuring sulforaphane expert Dr. Jed Fahey.

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