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MEDICINE | OUR HEALTH

A watchful eye is the best medicine

February 03, 2003

Most children who've struck their heads do not require skull X-rays, CT scans or MRI tests.

For people between the ages of 2 and 20, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of such tests unless the patient is exhibiting clear signs of a problem or the accident is considered serious enough to have caused an injury.

Testing is not even recommended for children who suffer a brief loss of consciousness (less than one minute) if, on physical examination by a doctor, they appear well.

It is essential, however, that children who sustain head injuries be closely monitored afterward for at least 24 hours. (Monitoring can usually take place at home.) Even if the child appears normal after 24 hours, caregivers should be alert for any significant change in the child's condition for several days after the injury.

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