A Swedish study published on March 21 in the Public Library of Science found that children diagnosed with brachial plexus birth injuries have a higher risk of developing mental health issues as a teenager, according to an article from PsychCentral. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden analyzed data on 600,000 Swedish teens and discovered that more than 1,600 with brachial plexus palsy used anti-depressants and other medications for mental health issues more frequently than their peers.
Further, the researchers found that kids with brachial plexus injuries from low-income families also have a greater chance of developing mental health issues than their peers from higher-income families. Overall, teenage girls were more affected, but the risk of mental health issues became even higher for girls from low-income backgrounds.
The lead author of the study, Elia Psouni, associate professor of developmental psychology at Lund University in Sweden, told PsychCentral, “Coming from a family with low socioeconomic status is a high risk in itself. If you are also a girl, the risk that you will suffer from poor mental health is more than twice as high than if you are a boy from a wealthy family.”
Research already shows that a child’s socioeconomic background can have an effect on whether or not they develop a mental illness. A 2012 study from The American Journal of Public Health showed that the link between mental health disorders and socioeconomic background might mostly be driven by perceived social status. It’s also important to note that children raised in low-income households may receive less support and have less access to social services.
Birth injury’s impact on mental illness
So why did the study find that the impact of brachial plexus injury on mental illness affect girls more than boys? Psouni posits that “it has to do with trauma and discrimination on many levels,” and added, “In my previous research, I have seen how the experiences and consequences of school-related stress are greater in girls than in boys.”
Brachial plexus injury is one of the more common birth injuries, affecting the ability for an infant to flex or rotate their arm. Typically, this injury heals on its own within a few months, but in some cases, it results in permanent nerve damage. Sometimes birth injuries are unavoidable, but there are times it occurs due to medical negligence or malpractice.
Psouni hopes her research will help drive awareness to the long-term effects of brachial plexus birth injuries, and help prepare families and children with these injuries when it comes to mental health in their teen years. She hopes that “children will continue to receive help, even after the physical injury has been treated, by a professional team working closely with the patient.”
If your child suffered a birth injury like a brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy, we can help. The birth injury lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law can help hold the negligent parties responsible and work to secure compensation to help you take care of your child. Please call 877-686-8879, or fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation in one of our Ohio or Kentucky offices.