By: Carlyn Patterson Gentile MD, PhD, FAAP & Marissa DiGiovine, MD, FAAP
Head injury is one of the most common causes of loss of consciousness in children. If your child experiences loss of consciousness (is “knocked out") following a head injury, you should always take it seriously and talk with a health care professional.
Most of the time, head injuries are minor, and children only lose consciousness for a few seconds. Even so, children should be examined by a health care professional. They should also be watched for changes that point to a more severe head injury.
When should I call 911?
Call 911 if your child loses consciousness after a head injury such as a bump, hit or jolt to the head, and
you are concerned for your child's immediate safety, or
your child is experiencing ANY of the following symptoms:
When should I take my child to the emergency department?
If your child has ANY of the following symptoms, you should have your child examined immediately:
The period of unconsciousness was longer than 5 seconds
Vomiting two or more times, or hours after the injury
Irritability or fussiness
Bruising or bleeding around the scalp or eyes
Clear fluid coming out of the nose
Is it ok to let my child sleep after a head injury?
It is important to discuss the head injury with a healthcare professional. If the health care professional has evaluated your child and feels they are unlikely to have a more severe head injury, they may say it is ok to let your child to sleep.
Don't hesitate to talk with your child's pediatrician if you have any concerns about their health or safety.
About Dr. Gentile
Carlyn Patterson Gentile MD, PhD, FAAP is a child neurologist and headache specialist and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. She has a special focus in pediatric concussion and post-traumatic headache. She is a member of the Neurology Special Interest Group of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
About Dr. DiGiovine
Marissa DiGiovine, MD, FAAP is a pediatric neurologist who subspecializes in epilepsy. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, and is an Advisory Committee member of the National Coordinating Center for Epilepsy, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neurology, and a founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Mentorship.