Sudden deaths of young competitive athletes are
tragic and highly visible events especially, when considering the fact that the
victims were very young and enjoyed great health.
The deaths of these young athletes had a
profound effect on their families in particular and the community at large and
always manages to draw a lot of media attention.
The focus of attention has always been on cardiovascular
causes and less on traumatic organ damage.
A study conducted by Mathew Thomas et al, hoped
to define the clinical profile, epidemiology, and frequency of trauma-related
sudden deaths in young athletes of the USA.
Information for the last
30 years (1980 -2009) was gathered from US national registry to evaluate the
epidemiology and frequency of sudden deaths from trauma in children,
adolescents, and young athletes(who were 21 years or younger at the time of
death) and to compare these deaths with those caused by cardiovascular events
during the same period.
identification and tracking strategies were employed in the study.
archival informational database
accounts systematically assembled through Burrelle's Information Services
searches-access to online information via Web-based search engines (eg,
the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (Washington, DC)
records of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research
(University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC)
reports to the registry and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Web site
(US National Registry of Sudden Death in Athletes)
high schools, colleges, medical examiners, and parents.
Results & Conclusion
- Of the 1827 youths studied who were 21 or younger,
261 (14%) died due to bodily trauma and vital organ damage. At least 4 such
deaths were reported in each of the 30 years.
The largest number of deaths were in football (148
[57%]). This also included 17 high school athletes who sustained concussions
shortly before fatal head trauma ("second-impact syndrome"). These deaths could
have been prevented if timely action was taken. Football deaths were noted to
be most frequent among defensive players, although the single most common
position involved was running back (61% of offensive players).
There has been increasing attention (including in
the news media) on the risks in children and young adults from blunt trauma
associated with a few competitive sports ( such as football) leading to
non-fatal concussion injury, life-long disability, or even death. Notably, the
study revealed that the frequency of deaths in athletes due to body trauma
proved to be relatively low in comparison to cardiac events but a system of
reporting such deaths could help in improving preventive strategies..
Epidemiology of Sudden
Death in Young, Competitive Athletes Due to Blunt Trauma; Mathew Thomas BS et al; Pediatrics 2011; 128:1 e1-e8
The full article is available at the following url