Young people who have suffered brain injuries are more likely to commit crimes and end up in prison, according to a new study.
UK researchers reviewed previous published studies and found that young people who have been in trouble with the law are more likely to have neurodevelopmental problems compared to the general population.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham and University of Exeter explain the injuries caused by head trauma can cause maturing brains to "misfire," which could have an effect on a person's judgment and their control impulses.
They say that the latest findings call for greater monitoring and treatment to prevent later problems.
Researchers said if injuries to the head, which may be the result of falls, sporting injuries, car accidents or fights, are undetected and untreated, they may increase the future risk of offending.
"The young brain, being a work in progress, is prone to 'risk taking' and so is more vulnerable to getting injured in the first place, and to suffer subtle to more severe problems in attention, concentration and managing one's mood and behavior," study author Professor Huw Williams said in a statement.
"It is rare that brain injury is considered by criminal justice professionals when assessing the rehabilitative needs of an offender, even though recent studies from the UK have shown that prevalence of TBI among prisoners is as high as 60 percent," he added. "Brain injury has been shown to be a condition that may increase the risk of offending, and it is also a strong 'marker' for other key factors that indicate risk for offending."
Researchers recommend early intervention to detect and manage brain injuries by training school staff to ensure that young people receive the required neuro-rehabilitative support.
Previously, researchers also found that people who have had previous traumatic brain injuries are three times more likely to commit a violent crime, according to a Swedish study led by Seena Fazel from University of Oxford.
Researchers found that 8.8 percent of the people studied who had suffered severe brain injuries had been convicted for violence compared to 3 percent of the of control participants who did not suffer brain injuries.
"Comparing the conviction rates before and after the diagnosis would provide another perspective on the effect of the illness on violent crime," Jan Volavka, a psychiatrist and professor the New York University School of Medicine, had said in a statement.
"Among the major strengths of the study are the very large sample size, comprising the entire population of Sweden, and the follow-up of 35 years. The findings are of major public health importance and provide inspiration for further research," Volavka added.