Higher risk taking is particularly characteristic for males between 15 and 35 years, the age when intrasexual competition is the strongest. This fitness-maximizing strategy, however, also has negative consequences; previous data revealed that males have a significantly higher tendency to die in accidents. This retrospective study aimed to assess whether age-related risk taking, often associated with the reproductive competition between males, and referred to as the Young Male Syndrome (YMS), may play a role in the high incidence of severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) in young males. Derived from the available evidence and the main assumptions of the YMS, we expected that men, especially when they are in the age when their reproductive potential peaks, are more likely to suffer sTBI from highly risky behaviors that also lead to higher mortality. It was also expected that alcohol intoxication makes the demographic pattern of sTBI even more similar to what previous research on the YMS implies. We analyzed demographic data of patients with sTBI (N = 365) registered in a clinical database. To this end, we built Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMM) to reveal which of the demographic characteristics are the best predictors for risky behaviors leading to sTBI and death as a consequence of the injury. The data suggest that younger people acquired sTBI from riskier behaviors compared to members of older age groups, irrespective of their sex. Moreover, being male and being alcohol intoxicated also contributed significantly to risk-taking behavior. Mortality rate after the injury, however, increased with the age of the patient and did not depend on the riskiness of the behavior. The results indicate that the demographic distribution of the specific patient population in our focus cannot be simply explained by the YMS. However, higher incidence rates of males among the patients are in line with the core assumptions of the YMS. These data indicate that epidemiological studies should also take into consideration evolutionary theories and highlight the importance of age and sex specific prevention strategies.
- Age groups
- Day-of-injury alcohol intoxication
- Risk taking behavior
- Severe traumatic brain injury
- Young male syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology