Incidence and severity of head injury hospitalisations in Australian children over a 10-year period

Mia Bierbaum, Reidar P. Lystad, Kate Curtis, Rebecca Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Issue addressed: Child head injuries can cause life-long disability and are a major cause of mortality globally. The incidence and impact of child head injuries in Australia is unknown. This study aims to quantify the incidence, characteristics and treatment cost, and to identify factors associated with the severity of hospitalisations of head injuries in Australian children. Methods: Linked hospitalisation and mortality data were used to retrospectively examine hospitalisation trends for head injury in children aged ≤16 years and associated factors, in Australia, from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2012. Results: There were 164,126 hospitalisations of children for head injury during the 10-year period, commonly male (65.5%), or aged ≤5 years (48.3%). The incidence among children aged <1 year and 1-5 years significantly increased by 1.7% (95%CI 0.9-2.6; p<0.0001) and 1.5% (95%CI 1.1-1.9; p<0.0001) annually during the study period, respectively. The most common injury mechanisms across all age groups were falls (45.2%) and road trauma (16.0%). Head injury hospitalisations cost $468.9 million, with the higher costs found for children aged 11-16 years, and for the most severe injuries. Conclusion: Head injury hospitalisations cost the Australian health system close to half a billion dollars over a 10-year period, with the most serious injuries resulting in lifelong health implications. So what?: Targeted health promotion strategies such as the promotion of helmet wearing during scooter use, the introduction of cycleways, and impact absorbing surfaces on playgrounds, need to be implemented to reduce the occurrence of head injuries in children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • costs and cost analysis
  • craniocerebral trauma
  • hospitalisation
  • paediatrics
  • wounds and injuries


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