A study recently published in the Journal of Child Neurology (JCN) spotlights young football players and suggests they may be at higher risk for stroke. According to researchers Jared R. Bosch, MD, MSc, and Meredith R. Golomb, MD, MSc, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Ind, reportedly examined multiple case studies of teen football players who suffered stroke and pinpointed potential causes behind these strokes.

The case studies, according to researchers, document three adolescent football players who suffered ischemic strokes that were associated with football practice and play. Researchers say potential causes for the strokes include an increase of hyperventilation, repeated neurological injury, use of anabolic steroids, use of highly caffeinated energy drinks, and an increase in obesity of young players. 

Researchers emphasize the heightened risk of increased obesity, as it elevates the force of impact among players and also the likelihood for other stroke factors, including hypertension. 

Brosch and Golomb reiterate the potential risk for hypertension, “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 say.

Brosch and Golomb report that organized childhood tackle football in the US can potentially lead to decades of repeated brain injuries. The authors also indicate that as the body mass index of the US pediatric football-playing population continues to increase, so do the forces experienced by tackled pediatric players. “Further work is needed to understand how repeated high-impact large-force trauma from childhood football affects the immature central nervous system,” Bosch and Golomb add.

Source: Journal of Child Neurology