MONTREAL -- McGill University says a new study led by its researchers is the first to report that childhood behaviour can predict traumatic brain injuries later in life.

The study, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, specifically shows that boys who exhibit inattention-hyperactivity at age 10 have a higher risk of sustaining traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as adolescents and adults.

The study also found that boys who sustained TBIs in childhood were more likely to also sustain them in adolescence. (Researchers found that 17 per cent of males sustain a TBI in their lifetimes).

“Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults, but little is known about the factors that provoke them,” Guido Guberman, a doctoral and medical student in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, said in a statement.

The researchers say treating behaviours such as inattention-hyperactivity could decrease the risk of sustaining TBIs later in life. (Some 17 per cent of men sustain a TBI during their lifetimes, the researchers found).

“To avoid suffering and disability, prevention strategies are needed, for example promoting cyclist safety," Guberman said. "There are treatments that can decrease the severity of childhood inattention-hyperactivity and behavioural problems. Our results suggest that trials are necessary to determine whether these programs can also decrease the risk for subsequent traumatic brain injuries."

The researchers say they came to their conclusions by analyzing health data from 724 Canadian males aged 6 to 34, including studying their health files, collecting information from their parents, and giving a questionnaire to their teachers on the participants' classroom behaviours when they were 10 years old.