Evidence suggests that pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be causally related to alcohol misuse later in life; however, the nature and extent of the association has not been well described. This study examined the relationship between pediatric TBI and adult alcohol misuse in a population sample aged ≥20 years. We sought to determine (1) whether first self-reported incidence of TBI with loss of consciousness (LOC) before the age of 20 increased the risk for alcohol misuse later in life; and (2) whether sex, injury severity, and age at time of injury modified the association. We found a greater likelihood of binge but not heavy drinking for those whose first self-reported TBI with LOC occurred before the age of 20 when compared to those whose first occurred later in life (28.5% vs. 20.4%, p = 0.003. When limited to those with only mild TBI, the relationship for binge drinking remained significant (31.9% vs. 19.3%, p < 0.001) and was evident for both males (38.4% vs. 25.6%, p = 0.016) and females (20.9% vs. 12.4%, p = 0.044). When controlling for sex, age and race/ethnicity, reporting a first TBI with LOC before age 20 was associated with binge drinking only for those with mild TBI (AOR=1.32; 95% CI=1.00-1.74). Results also showed that those with first TBI with LOC occurring between the ages of 10-19 years were more likely to binge drink as adults than those first injured earlier in life, regardless of TBI severity. Further research is needed at both the epidemiological and preclinical levels to better understand this relationship.
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