Thursday, December 29, 2011

TBI, But Not Epilepsy, Associated With Violent Crime

Epilepsy is not associated with increased risk of violent crime, but traumatic brain injury is, according to results of a 35-year Swedish population study published December 27 in PLOS Medicine. Researchers from the Centre for Violence Prevention at Sweden's Karolinska Institute combined Swedish population registers from 1973 to 2009, and examined associations of epilepsy and traumatic brain injury with subsequent violent crime, defined as convictions for homicide, assault, robbery, arson, any sexual offense, or illegal threats or intimidation. Each case was age and gender matched with 10 general-population controls. Cases were also compared with unaffected siblings to assess familial factors.

“In this longitudinal population-based study, we found that, after adjustment for familial confounding, epilepsy was not associated with increased risk of violent crime, questioning expert opinion that has suggested a causal relationship,” wrote the researchers. “In contrast, although there was some attenuation in risk estimates after adjustment for familial factors and substance abuse in individuals with traumatic brain injury, we found a significantly increased risk of violent crime. The implications of these findings will vary for clinical services [and] the criminal justice system....”

Read about a promising—and surprising—treatment for traumatic brain injury in Psychiatric News.

(Image: Lightspring/