Viewpoint: If you want your children to have healthier brains, don’t let them play tackle football

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Image: Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times

If U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked for our advice (he hasn’t), we’d recommend that he issue the following statement: 

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Tackle football is dangerous for children. Children who play tackle football absorb repeated hits to the head. As adults, they’re at higher risk of suffering cognitive deficits as well as behavioral and mood problems.

We’d suggest that, as the nation’s top doctor, the surgeon general put this warning on every youth football helmet and place it in bold type on all youth tackle football registration forms. A parent or guardian wouldn’t be able to sign up their child without seeing it.

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It’s hard to overstate the importance of these steps. It’s fair to say that millions of sports-playing kids would enter adulthood with healthier brains and better futures.

Forty million children participate in organized sport each year. 

In one BU study, researchers dug into the sports-playing pasts of 214 former football players. Their finding: Starting as a player in a tackle football league before age 12 corresponded with increased odds for clinical depression, apathy and executive function problems — for example, diminished insight, judgment and multitasking.

Read full, original post: Children, tackle football and the possible dangers of brain diseases

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