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Tackle Football before Age 12 Linked to Later Brain Problems

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Concussions can also occur when something hits the body with so much force that it makes the brain to bounce around within the skull. Photo: newhealthadvisor.com

Athletes who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 12 had more behavioral and cognitive problems later in life than those who started playing after they turned 12, according to a long-term study conducted by researchers at Boston University.

The results of the study, published in the journal Nature’s Translational Psychiatry journal, was based on a sample of 214 former players, with an average age of 51. Of those, 43 played through high school, 103 played through college and the remaining 68 played in the National Football League.

According to The New York Times, the researchers found that players in all three groups who participated in youth football before the age of 12 had a twofold “risk of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function” and a threefold risk of “clinically elevated depression scores.”

“The brain is going through this incredible time of growth between the years of 10 and 12, if you subject that developing brain to repetitive head impacts, it may cause problems later in life,” Robert Stern, one of the authors of the study, said of the findings.

This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.

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