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Young Athletes Unlikely to Injure Kidney Playing Contact Sports

6/18/2012 For Release: June 18, 2012

Kidney injuries from sports are rare, so youth with just one kidney need not be barred from playing contact sports, according to a study in the July 2012 Pediatrics (published online June 18). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a “qualified yes” for participation in contact or collision sports for young athletes with a single kidney, but many physicians are reluctant to give the go-ahead. It is estimated that 1 in 1,500 people is born with a single kidney. The study, “Sport-Related Kidney Injury Among High School Athletes,” looked at data from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association High School Injury Surveillance Study from 199 to 1997. Researchers analyzed data from more than 4.4 million “athlete exposures,” defined as one athlete participating in one game or practice. Of 23,666 reported injuries, only 18 involved a kidney, and none of those was catastrophic or required surgery. This number of injuries is far fewer than numbers reported for the head/neck/spine, brain or knee. The authors concluded that the data do not support limiting sports participation by athletes with otherwise normal single kidneys. 

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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. (

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