Akesak / iStock

A nationwide study of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in Finland has found that being hospitalized with a moderate to severe TBI as an adult increases the risk of dementia later in life.

Why it matters: Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and injury globally. In 2013, 2.8 million Americans went to the emergency room, were hospitalized or died from a traumatic brain injury, according to the CDC. As populations age, it's important to know the long-term consequences of brain injuries. The authors believe this is the first nationwide survey of TBI and neurodegenerative disease.

What they did: The researchers used data from the Finnish Care Register for Health Care to identify 19,936 18-65 year olds who were hospitalized with a moderate-severe TBI and 20,703 persons hospitalized with mild TBI between 1987 and 2014. They looked for a diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease starting one year later. Since past research has shown that mild traumatic brain injuries are not associated with dementia, the group with mild TBI's were used to control for socioeconomic status. The research was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

What they found: People hospitalized with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury are 90% more likely to develop dementia than those with a mild TBI, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, which is a risk factor for both TBI and neurodegenerative disease. There was no increase in risk of Parkinson disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


The study only looked at people who were hospitalized, so some mild cases of TBI may not be included in the study. However, the large sample size helps to control for some potential sources of error. It's also possible that the same factors that make someone likely to develop dementia may make them more likely to receive a traumatic brain injury.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.