Study Suggests CDC Massively Underreporting Concussions

Researchers say they hope the study sheds more light on the frequency and nature of concussions in children.

A new study suggests teen concussion statistics recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only count a fraction of the actual total.

The study found that children are diagnosed with concussions at primary care sites 82 percent of the time, compared to 12 percent of overall diagnoses that occur at emergency rooms where the CDC pulls its data.

“Better estimates of the number, causes, and outcomes of concussions will allow us to more effectively prevent and treat them, which is a priority area for CDC’s Injury Center,” says Dr. Debry Houry, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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For the study, published May 31 in the American Medical Association Pediatrics, medical researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the CDC analyzed the hospital’s data on concussion diagnoses, reports ABC News. Researchers emphasized that the data could be skewed because it was only taken from one hospital.

Outside of the primary care sites and emergency departments, researchers found that five percent of all concussions were diagnosed by a specialist and one percent of diagnoses came after a patient was directly admitted to the hospital.

The data also showed that one third of concussions were suffered be children under the age of 12, meaning concussion treatment efforts focused on high school athletes may be misguided.

“Anytime we can get a better sense of what the true numbers are, it allows us to provide better care and focus research and attention on where it’s needed,” says Alex Diamond, a director with the CDC.

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