A recent study shows athletes who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 could be faced with problems later in life.
Every hit, tackle and play could cause mood swings, emotional problems and depression as players become adults.
Dr. Robert Stern, a lead researcher at Boston University, says the study found that repetitive head impacts, not concussions, were the source of the health issues.
“Every time the body or the head gets hit and the head moves quickly-the brain gets sheared and stretched,” says Dr. Stern.
For the study, the researchers looked at 214 former football players who began before age 12 and played only through high school or college. The average age of the study participants was 51.
“It’s not those big hits and having symptoms and diagnosed with concussion. We are talking about the many hits per game and per practice without feeling anything from it,” says Dr. Stern.
Those big hits double the risk of behavioral problems and triple the chance of suffering depression later in life.
This year 3 million children ages 6 to 14 are playing organized youth tackle football. According to USA Football, some 5-year-olds are even in the game.