Study: Most Kids Who Die Suddenly Playing Sports are Middle Schoolers
INDIANAPOLIS--A new study says the vast majority of American kids who die suddenly while playing sports are middle school age children who experience some sort of cardiac problem.
The study was done by the National Athletic Trainer's Association. Researchers looked at 45 sudden sports deaths that occurred between 2007 and 2015 among children ages 6 to 17.
It said the most-sudden sports deaths among kids – 36 percent – came on the basketball court. Baseball and football each accounted for another 16 percent while soccer had 13 percent.
"So the glass half full part of the study is that youth sports are actually quite safe, although there are ways to make them safer," said IU Health Cardiologist Dr. Michael Emery. He spoke to our newsgathering partners, WISH-TV, Thursday.
Emery says the number one thing parents should be looking out for is any symptoms their kids may be complaining about.
"Those can be unusual chest discomfort, unusual shortness of breath, they passed out while playing sports, or felt like they were going to pass out. Those are warning signs that could signal something serious," Emery said.
He says even if they experience those symptoms and they aren't serious, they need to go to a medical professional who knows what they're looking for in terms of sports.
Emery also said it's paramount that coaches watch what's happening to their kids closely.
"They need to be trained in CPR, have an emergency action plan in place, and have a working, accessible automated external defibrillator (AED). That AED is what is going to be most useful in protecting that young athlete and their co-coaches," Emery continued.
An AED helps a person's heart re-establish an effective rhythm if it goes through any kind of cardiac problem.
Emery also urges parents to ensure their athletes get a checkup from a medical provider trained in detecting cardiovascular problems before they start playing basketball – even if such an evaluation is not required by the school or league.
(PHOTO: Thinkstock/ Brian A Jackson)