Youth soccer is one of the most popular team sports in the world and is an effective form of exercise for many children. With the growing popularity of soccer (known as football outside the U.S.), comes a greater number of injuries, as detailed in a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Injuries in Youth Soccer
,” published in the February issue of Pediatrics
(appearing online Jan. 25). Injury rates are highest among younger, preadolescent players. Young females tend to suffer more knee-related injuries, compared to male soccer players who tend to have more ankle injuries. Knee injury prevention programs can reduce the number of knee injuries and should be promoted in the soccer community. Concussions are common in soccer, and females tend to have a slightly higher concussion risk than males. The risk of a head injury is comparable to other contact/collision sports, though evidence does not support repeated heading as a risk for short or long-term cognitive issues. The report authors suggest enforcing the rules of the game and discouraging overtly aggressive or dangerous play to reduce injuries, since many injuries result from unsafe play or conditions.