Study: Youth Football Is Linked to Earlier Symptoms of Brain Disease

Professional football players who played tackle football when they were children suffered from symptoms of “brain disease, like cognitive impairment and mood swings, earlier in their lives,” Time magazine reported. Dr. Ann McKee, whose work on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) uncovered the health risks that football poses to players, studied 211 brains in an attempt to see if more severe CTE developed in those that started playing the game at a very young age. McKee found that 84 brains from individuals who had participated in tackle football before the age of 12 “had an earlier onset of cognitive, behavior and mood symptoms by an average of 13 years, compared to those who started after age 12.” While the study only analyzed the brains of former professional football players, the damage that football can do to growing brains has prompted some states to raise legislation that puts an age limit on the sport.