Date of Conferral





Public Health


Raymond M. Panas


This quantitative research is on the efficacy of Minnesota Statute 144.574 enacted in 2005 in response to the growing awareness of behavior leading to inflicted Traumatic Brain Injuries (iTBI) in infants and children. The model for this research is grounded in the Theory of Reasoned Action wherein the education of new parents which graphically explains the physiologic changes to the structural architecture of the brain post-trauma, paired with their signature on a social contract (SC), demonstrated a reduction in incidence. Because the enacted statute does not include the signing of a SC, nor does it require face-to-face education as in the model, Statute 144.574 cannot claim to be completely grounded in medical science. The result is that neither legislators nor the medical and public health community know whether the statute is effective in lowering incidence. This research was designed to explore the difference in the incidence pre-and post-enactment, in rural vs. urban communities, the proportion of incidence and ethnicity, and an ordinal shift in the distribution of severity. All births in Minnesota from 1998 through 2017 were included. Cases defined using International Classification of Disease were extracted from secondary data from the brain and spinal cord injury, hospital discharge, and vital statistics databases. A Z-test was employed to compare the incidence in a control cohort of infants and children born prior to enactment to the incidence of same in an interventional cohort born post-enactment. Results suggest the statute has not resulted in lowering incidence, have uncovered an unanticipated statistically significant increase in rural vs. urban incidence, yet point to a trend in favor of less severe iTBI. These results represent a positive social change which is grounded in the society's imperative and social justice of protecting children by informing public health officials, caregivers, and legislators of the need for meaningful reform and strengthening of programs leading to lowering the incidence of iTBI in children in Minnesota.