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Young Football Players Avoiding Heatstroke

No deaths seen for second consecutive year

THURSDAY, July 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- For the second year in a row, there were no heatstroke-related deaths among young U.S. football players in 2003, says a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The findings show that education and messages about preventing heatstroke are having an effect. Between 1995 and 2001, 21 young U.S. football players died from heatstroke.

"Again this year we have good news to report because we have been concerned about the heatstroke toll," Dr. Frederick Mueller, a professor and chairman of exercise and sport science, said in a prepared statement.

"Heat-related deaths in sports are almost entirely preventable. When they happen, it means someone forgot to emphasize or practice what coaches and trainers have been told for years: Players should get all the water they want in practice, and have frequent cooling-off breaks to prevent these tragedies," Mueller said.

The study said three high school and youth football players died in 2003 as a direct result of injuries they suffered on the field. Two of those deaths were the result of head injuries, and the third was the result of an injury to the neck artery.

"We wish, of course, that none of these injury deaths occurred, but the numbers are low compared to the 1960s and 1970s," Mueller said.

For example, in 1968, 36 young football players died as direct result of football injuries. Since then, new rules and equipment, along with medical and coaching changes, have made the game much safer, said Mueller, director of the university's National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injuries.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about heatstroke.

SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, July 1, 2004
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