Study Looks at Stroke Risks in Teen Football Players

Possible factors include obesity and anabolic-steroid use, researchers say

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Playing football may put certain teens at increased risk for stroke, according to a small new study.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis analyzed three case studies of teen football players who suffered a stroke, and identified some factors that could boost the likelihood of a stroke.

These factors included: an increase in hyperventilation, repeated brain injury, use of anabolic steroids, use of highly caffeinated energy drinks and obesity.

Obesity is linked to a twofold risk because it increases the force of impacts between players and also heightens the risk for other stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure (hypertension), according to researchers Dr. Jared Brosch and Dr. Meredith Golomb.

"Two of our subjects had mild hypertension, but were too young to have had the many years of exposure that would lead to chronic vascular injury," they said in a journal news release.

The study recently appeared online in the Journal of Child Neurology.

"Organized childhood tackle football in the United States can begin at age 5 years, leading to potentially decades of repeated brain injuries. In addition, the body mass index of the United States pediatric football-playing population continues to increase, so the forces experienced by tackled pediatric players continues to increase," the researchers wrote.

"Further work is needed to understand how repeated high-impact large-force trauma from childhood football affects the immature central nervous system," they concluded.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and stroke.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Journal of Child Neurology, news release, Dec. 8, 2011

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