Tackle Football Before Age 12 Can Cause Brain Damage, Study Says

CBS Local — A new study is revealing even more unsettling news for kids who play tackle football at a young age. According to researchers at Boston University, playing the sport before the age of 12 can lead to future brain disorders later in life.

The study, published in the journal Nature Translational Psychiatry, claims younger children had twice the risk of issues with behavioral regulation and apathy, as well as three times the risk of depression than those who started playing after age 12.

From CBS New York:

Blows to the head that might disrupt the maturation of the brain could have lasting consequences,” Dr. Kristen Dams-O’Connor said.

Dr. Dams-O’Connor of Mt. Sinai’s Brain Injury Research Center said it was also concerning that those effects took years to show up and lasted well into middle age. “It could be as simple as these early exposures are overlaid upon the effects of aging and that it manifests later in life with these clinically concerning symptoms,” she said.

What the study was not able to quantify is the number — if any — of concussions or head blows the men had sustained as youths, so there’s no way to know if there’s a correlation in that regard.

One of the authors of the study says eliminating tackling in youth football would be a major step toward making the game safe but it’s not a perfect solution.

“We’re removing that increased risk that we see in this study and in previous studies, but we wouldn’t eliminate all risk. It just means that we would be doing something important to reduce exposure to repetitive head impacts,” said BU professor Dr. Robert Stern.

In a recent study of the brains donated by former NFL players, 110 of 111 samples were diagnosed with having signs of the degenerative brain disease C.T.E.

[H/T: CBS New York]

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