Study finds no connection between children playing youth contact sports and mental health problems

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A study released by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder did not find a connection between children playing contact sports and cognitive and mental health problems.

Researchers spent 14 years collecting data and interviews from more than 10,000 participants from across the U.S.

Researchers initially interviewed a sampling of 7th to 12th graders in 1994 and followed the participants into their late 20s and early 30s.

In the end, the study found students who played contact sports were no more likely to suffer cognitive impairment, depression or suicidal thoughts in early adulthood than their peers.

“There is a common perception that there’s a direct causal link between youth contact sports, head injuries and downstream adverse effects like impaired cognitive ability and mental health,” said lead author Adam Bohr, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology in a press release from CU Boulder. “We did not find that.”

Bohr said researchers found instead that youth who did not participate in youth contact sports were 22 percent more likely to suffer from depression in their late 20s and early 30s.

 

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