The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new guidelines stating that it is safe for healthy children and teen athletes to play sports in hot weather as long as precautions are taken and common sense is used.
The nation’s largest pediatricians group released their guidelines as school sports begin and summer temperatures continue to spike. Ironically, the advice comes a week after the deaths of two Georgia high school football players who had been practicing in temperatures over 90 degrees.
The previous policy was based on the idea that kids were more vulnerable to heat than adults. The academy claims that new research refutes this old idea. The new guidelines say that with proper training, hydration, time-outs and emergency treatment available on the sidelines, there is no reason why healthy young athletes can’t play in high heat (and humidity) as long as common sense is used.
2001 and 2009, more than 3,000 U.S. children and teens younger than 20 were treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal heat illness from sports or exercise. According to data from the America Football Coaches Association (and others), over a 13 year period, there were 29 deaths of high school football players from heat stroke. Football can be particularly stressful because intense practices often begin during late-summer heat, with athletes wearing heavy uniforms and padding.
Dr. Michael Bergeron, a University of South Dakota sports medicine specialist, said “You can take somebody in 80-degree heat and you can kill them if you work them hard enough,” although he suggested that the old policy was not followed very strictly because it was too limiting.
Pediatricians clear kids to play sports in heat. Via Google Images.
The new guidelines list safety as the top priority. While they don’t give hard limits for temperature or humidity, they do in clude other advice, like having emergency plans with trained personnel and treatment available, giving kids about two weeks to adapt to preseason sessions, making sure athletes are well-hydrated before practice or games and educating everyone about signs of heat stress (including dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches and nausea).
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