Boxing for children thrown out of the ring

By • Published: April 2nd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Pediatricians want parents to throw in the towel on boxing for children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society recently came out with a new policy statement opposing the youth sport, which can result in serious brain and eye injuries.

More than 18,000 children and adolescents are involved in boxing. Experts say boxing can be good exercise and can build confidence and discipline. But it also puts children at high risk for head, face and neck injuries. Some of these injuries can lead to chronic neurologic conditions and even death.

After all, the goal of boxing is to make intentional blows to the head.

That’s why the American and Canadian pediatric organizations recommend children participate in alternative sports. True, the overall risk of injury in amateur boxing is lower than in other collision sports such as football, ice hockey and soccer. But boxing is the only one of these sports that encourages and rewards direct blows to the head and face.

The American Academy of Pediatrics first came out against children’s boxing in 1997, but the group decided to update its statement because of additional evidence on the dangers of blows to the head.

Concussions are the most common boxing injury. That’s troubling since there is evidence that a child’s brain is still developing and more vulnerable to injury. Recovery from a concussion also takes longer for children, when compared with adults.

Studies also raise the concern that repeated head injuries from boxing may have long-lasting neurocognitive effects.

So, if your child has an interest in boxing, think twice before letting them enter the ring. Pound-for-pound, they may be better off picking another activity. Their brains will thank them, and you will rest a little easier.