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Pediatric Football-Linked Risk Factors for Stroke Explored

Potential mechanisms include hyperventilation, neurological injury, obesity, anabolic steroids

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Several factors, including repeated head or neurological injury and obesity, may contribute to the risk of stroke among young football players, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Child Neurology.

Jared R. Brosch, M.D., and Meredith R. Golomb, M.D., from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, described three cases of adolescents who experienced ischemic strokes linked with playing football. They also reviewed available literature on stroke associated with childhood sports, particularly football.

The investigators found that in all three cases, the ischemic infarction was temporally associated with practicing or playing full-contact football. Several mechanisms that may have contributed to pediatric stroke after football injury included hyperventilation, use of anabolic steroids, consumption of energy drinks, repeated neurological injury, and increased obesity. For children with known cerebrovascular abnormalities or stroke risk factors, football should be considered a high-risk activity.

"Organized childhood tackle football in the United States can begin at age 5 years, leading to potentially decades of repeated brain injuries," the authors write. "Further work is needed to understand how repeated high-impact large-force trauma from childhood football affects the immature central nervous system."

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