Subscribe to the Newsletter

Study: Youth Football Linked To Adult Problems

A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Translational Psychiatry.

Researchers from Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center studied 214 former American football players, including 43 who played only through high school and 103 who played only through college.The average age of the former players at the time of the study was 51.

Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning (initiating activity, problem-solving, planning and organization).

Results from former players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 were compared against those of participants who started playing at age 12 or later.

The study showed that participation in youth football before age 12 increased the risk of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning by two-fold and increased the risk of clinically elevated depression scores by three-fold.

The increased risk was independent of the total number of years the participants played football, the number of concussions they reported, or whether they played through high school, college or professionally.

The researchers chose the cutoff of age 12 because the brain undergoes a key period of development and maturation between the years 10-12 in males. They examined other age cutoffs as well, though the age 12 cutoff led to the most robust findings. In addition, even when a specific age cutoff was not used, younger age of first exposure to football was associated with worse clinical function.

The new study follows previous research from the BU CTE Center that examined former professional players. In those studies, the former NFL players who started tackle football prior to age 12 had worse memory and mental flexibility, as well as structural brain changes on MRI scans, compared to former players who began at age 12 or older.

"This study adds to growing research suggesting that incurring repeated head impacts through tackle football before the age of 12 can lead to a greater risk for short- and long-term neurological consequences," said Michael Alosco, PhD, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at Boston University School of Medicine.

However, more research on this topic is needed before any recommendations on policy or rule changes can be made, said corresponding author Robert Stern, PhD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery and anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM.

*

The researchers point out there are many important health and psychosocial benefits of participating in athletics and team sports during pre-adolescence.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University also participated in this study.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. This publication also was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH, through BUCTSI, as well as the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Michael L. Alosco and research reported in this publication are supported by a Pilot Grant from the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center, and the NIH/NINDS.

-

See also: Playing Tackle Football Before 12 Is Tied to Brain Problems Later.

-

And: BU CTE Center Statement on Aaron Hernandez.

-

Previously in concussions:
* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

* More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players.

* NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study.

* The Week In Concussions: Another Enforcer Down.

* Teen Concussion Rate Rising Significantly.

* Conflict Of Interest For NFL Doctors To Report To Teams: Harvard Study.

* U.S. Supreme Court Ends Fight Over $1 Billion NFL Concussion Deal.

* U.S. High School Soccer Concussions On The Rise.

* Youth Football Finally Listening To Coach Coffman.

* Many Kids Still Don't Report Concussion Symptoms. How Can We Change That?

* Brain Damage In Former Players Fuels Soccer 'Heading' Fears.

* Canadian Youth Hockey Injuries Cut In Half After National Policy Change.

* More Teen Knowledge About Concussion May Not Increase Reporting.

* High School Boys Fear Looking 'Weak' If They Report Concussions.

* Pro Flag Football Is Now A Thing - Starring Former NFL Players!

* Nearly All Donated NFL Brains Found To Have CTE.

* Female Athletes Are Closing The Gender Gap When It Comes To Concussions.

* Whoa. Perhaps The Smartest Player In NFL History - He's In Math PhD Program At MIT - Assesses Situation And Decides To Save His Brain.

* Study: CTE Affects Football Players At All Levels.

* Dan Jiggetts Is Right About CTE.

* Letting Our Boys Onto The Football Field Is A Losing Play.

* Tackle Rings?

* CTE Season Preview.

* The CTE Diaries: The Life And Death Of A High School Football Player Killed By Concussions.

-

Comments welcome.

More from Beachwood Sports »

All Is Not Forgiven, John Fox & Co.

Convenient competing narratives.

Continue reading "All Is Not Forgiven, John Fox & Co." »

Posted on Dec 11, 2017

Breaking Beachwood Sports Feed!