Playing tackle football before the age of 12 may be linked to brain changes seen in pro football players who developed memory and thinking problems later in life, new research suggests.
“It makes sense that children, whose brains are rapidly developing, should not be hitting their heads over and over again,” said lead author Julie Stamm, who conducted the study as part of her doctoral dissertation at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
“This study supports that idea and suggests that there may be later-life consequences associated with experiencing these repeated hits during childhood,” said Stamm, who is now a postdoctoral researcher in radiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
However, the current study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between playing football at a young age and the brain changes seen later in life. It only showed an association between these factors.
One expert not involved with the research said it adds to growing evidence of potential risk for young players.
“This study is not strong enough to allow a parent to determine that the evidence supporting a ‘no football for my kid’ approach is wise,” said Dr. Marie Csete, president and chief scientist at Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena, Calif. “But taken together with other studies, that kind of decision is looking smarter and smarter.”
The study was published this month in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay