"In boxing, children and youth are encouraged and rewarded for hitting the head. We're saying, don't put kids in a sport where hitting the head is condoned and encouraged," said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, co-author of the new position statement and chair of the Canadian Paediatric Society's Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee.
There has recently been more evidence on the dangers of blows to the head through boxing.
Since the information was released, the pediatric groups decided to review and update the policy statement.
About 18,000 people under the age of 19 are estimated to participate in boxing in the United States.
There are many supporters of the sport, however, and feel that it is beneficial for youth to participate in. Their reasons include: a good option for exercise and can help children develop self-discipline and self-confidence.
Opponents also note that the injury rates through boxing are lower than in other contact sports, such as football, wrestling, soccer, and ice hockey.
"Can't kids get 60 minutes of aerobic activity without promoting violence or blows to the head?" asked LeBlanc.
Brain injury is the most serious injury that can occur from boxing, and between 1918 and 1998 there were 659 boxers who died from catastrophic brain injury.
According to the policy statement, concussion is the most common injury that occurs in boxing. Following is open cuts and wounds.
Since young brains are vulnerable to injury, concussions in children and teens are of particular concern. Concussion recovery rates takes much longer in young people than in adults.
"We just can't say that repetitive blows to the head aren't dangerous. We have a much better understanding of concussions now, and repetitive concussions can have a negative impact on many aspects of cognitive function," said LeBlanc.
Since boxers also have to make their weight class, another concern is that this can lead to dangerous behaviors. Examples include limiting fluids and taking fluid-reducing medications to lose weight before a fight.
Director of trauma and injury prevention at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh Dr. Barbara Gaines agreed that there are some benefits to boxing but also pointed out that children lack decision-making abilities, therefore cannot judge potential risks like adults can.
Do you think boxing is a bigger risk for brain injury than other contact sports?
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