Thousands of Heat Illnesses Occur in Teen Athletes Yearly

Football players have highest incidence of time-loss heat illness
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- On average, high school athletes in the United States have an estimated 9,237 time-loss heat illnesses annually, and the highest rate is among football players, according to a report in the Aug. 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Julie Gilchrist, M.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on high school athletes and sports-related injuries from 2005 to 2009 to identify the incidence and characteristics of heat illness.

During this time period, a sampling of 100 schools reported 118 heat illnesses that had resulted in at least one day lost from athletic activity (time-loss heat illness). This corresponds to a rate of 1.6 time-loss heat illnesses per 100,000 athlete exposures and an average of 29.5 time-loss heat illnesses each school year. The researchers estimated that there are an average 9,237 time-loss heat illnesses nationally each year. Football players experienced a rate of time-loss heat illness 10 times the average rate for eight other sports (4.5 versus 0.4 per 100,000 athlete exposures), and time-loss heat illness occurred most often in August (66.3 percent), the researchers found.

"All athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and parents/guardians should be aware of the risk factors for heat illness, follow recommended strategies, and be prepared to respond quickly to symptoms of illness. Coaches also should continue to stress to their athletes the importance of maintaining proper hydration before, during, and after sports activities," the authors write.

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