Boxing is not an
appropriate sport for children and teens, say the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), in a new
policy statement, “Boxing Participation by Children and Adolescents,”
published in the September 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 29).
children and teens to actively pursue sport and recreation, but boxing
is not a good option,” said Claire LeBlanc, MD, FAAP, co-author of the
new position statement and chair of the CPS Healthy Active Living and
Sports Medicine Committee. “We recommend young people participate in
sports where the prime focus is not deliberate blows to the head.”
Amateur boxers are
at serious risk of face and brain injuries including concussion.
Children’s brains are more vulnerable to concussion, and recovery
takes longer than for adults. Though amateur boxers wear safety gear,
there is no evidence to show that head guards actually reduce the
incidence of concussions.
sports have some risk of injury, boxing is especially dangerous because
these athletes are rewarded for dedicated and deliberate hits to their
opponent’s head,” said Dr. LeBlanc.
USA Boxing and
Boxing Canada do not keep statistics on the number of participants or
injury rates of their members. However, the National Electronic Injury
Surveillance System database shows boxing injuries seen in U.S.
emergency departments averaged 8,716 injuries per year and increased
significantly from 1990 to 2008. Thirty-five percent of injuries to men
and boys that were unrelated to punching bags were to the head and
neck, especially concussions and lacerations. Concussions represented
8.1 percent of these injuries, and were similar across age groups from
12 to 34 years of age. This is worrisome, considering repetitive
blows to the head over time may be a risk factor for chronic traumatic
encephalopathy, said the authors.
The AAP and CPS
are calling on pediatricians and other health professionals to
strongly discourage boxing participation among their patients and
guide them toward alternative sport and recreational activities such
as swimming, tennis, basketball and volleyball.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.