High-impact sports increase risk of stress fractures in girls: report

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Boston – Adolescent girls who participate in high-impact sports such as basketball, running and gymnastics are at an increased risk of developing stress fractures, according to a report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

To gather data, researchers issued questionnaires regarding injuries and activity levels to 6,831 girls between 9 and 15 years old, a study abstract said. Over the course of the seven-year study, 267 participants developed stress fractures. Girls who engaged in eight or more hours of physical activity a week were twice as likely to develop stress fractures compared with those who engaged in less than four hours.

When researchers singled out high-impact sports, basketball, running, gymnastics and cheerleading were independently linked with an increased risk of fracture, with each hour of these activities increasing the fracture risk by 8 percent.

“Very high levels of activity may be detrimental to bone health and increase the risk of stress fracture,” the authors stated in the report.

The study, published online April 4, is scheduled to appear in the August print edition of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

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