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Health Capsules: April 4

By: Lisa Russell


Kids who specialize early in a single sport may be at increased risk for injury and burnout, new research suggests.

Kids’ early one-sport focus may increase injury, burnout risks

Parents looking to turn their children into future sports stars are a key factor behind the major paradigm shift that has taken place in youth sports over the past two decades. Rather than playing pick-up games with friends and having fun with sports in general, kids increasingly are specializing in one sport, at younger and younger ages. This shift has resulted in a greater risk of overuse injuries and earlier sports “burnout” among young people, according to studies presented at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons [AAOS].

Sports specialization among youth is defined as playing a single sport for at least three seasons a year at the exclusion of other sports, and early sports specialization occurs in children under age 12. In one study, a team of researchers from Columbia University surveyed about 200 parents of pediatric patients in the practice of the study’s lead author, Dr. Charles A. Popkin. The survey findings included:

• 57.2 percent of parents said they hoped for their children to play at a collegiate or professional level.

• About 80 percent of parents who hired personal trainers for their children were more likely to believe their children held collegiate or professional aspirations, and those children who received outside skill training had a higher injury risk due to the number of hours spent training and playing.

• One-third of respondents said their children played only one sport, while 53.2 percent had children who played multiple sports, but had a favorite sport.

• Only 13.4 percent had children who balanced their multiple sports equally.

“Culturally, we have found that parents have unrealistic expectations for their children to play collegiately or professionally and as a result, they invest in private lessons, trainers or personal coaches to help their kids,” Popkin said. “When you’re investing this amount of time and resources, there can be unwritten, indirect pressure from parents to specialize.”

The other study more closely examined the relationship between sports specialization and injury risk. For girls, the number of hours per week of activity was found to be a stronger predictor of injury than sports specialization. For boys, both specialization and the number of hours per week were predictive of injury.

The researchers involved in both studies said they hope to raise awareness of the risks associated with youth sports specialization, and to develop common-sense recommendations to reduce injuries and burnout. As a step in that direction, the AAOS and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine recently launched a campaign called OneSport™ to help address these hazards and prevent overuse injury.

FDA announces efforts to prevent loperamide abuse

Loperamide, a common over-the-counter medication sold under the brand name Imodium as well as in generic form, is an opioid-based drug which, in low doses, treats diarrhea by slowing down the movement of the gut. In recent years, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has noted an increasing number of loperamide abuse cases. After ingesting very large quantities far above the maximum recommended daily dose, either to self-treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal or to achieve an opioid “high,” some people have suffered life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrest and, in several cases, have died.

To combat this growing problem, the FDA announced in late January new efforts to partner with manufacturers in changing the way loperamide is packaged. This includes using blister packs or other single-dose packaging, and limiting the number of doses in a package. The agency also is reaching out to online retailers of loperamide – who often sell the drug in large-volume containers – to ask them to cooperate in making these packaging changes as well.

“The abuse of loperamide requires the purchase of extremely large quantities …We’re requesting that packages contain a limited amount of loperamide appropriate for use for short-term diarrhea according to the product label,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “We asked the manufacturers to take the necessary steps to implement these changes in a timely fashion to address these public health concerns.”

On the calendar

TEDxGatewayArch hosts its first chapter event of 2018, Think Well: Healthcare Out Loud from noon-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 at Sheldon Concert Hall, 2648 Washington Blvd. in St. Louis. Moderated by Maggie Crane of BioSTL, the event will focus on cutting-edge ideas in health, wellness and medicine and will feature a special interview with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  Ticket prices start at $45. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit tedxgatewayarch.org/think-well-2018.

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Free health screenings for adults are available from 7:30-9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 13 at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. Screening tests include lung function and blood pressure checks, cholesterol lipid panel and glucose testing, body composition analysis and BMI measurement. Participants should fast for at least 10 hours prior to screening. Preregistration is required by visiting bjcstcharlescounty.org/events.

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St. Luke’s Hospital sponsors cholesterol and glucose wellness screenings from 7-10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 20 at the WingHaven Medical Building, 5551 WingHaven Blvd. in O’Fallon, in Suite 80. A one-on-one consultation with a registered nurse/health coach is included, along with blood pressure and body composition measurement. A 10-12 hour fast and advanced appointments are required. Cost for all screenings is $20. Register online at stlukes-stl.com.

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A Babysitting 101 course for children and teens is offered from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. Topics include the business of babysitting, child development, safety and first aid, and fun and games. A workbook, backpack and light snack are provided. The course fee is $30 per child. Advance registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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BJC sponsors a Family and Friends CPR class from 6:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. This class is designed for parents, grandparents, babysitters [ages 10-15 if accompanied by an adult] and childcare providers. It is taught by a registered nurse using the American Heart Association’s curriculum, but does not include certification. The fee is $25 per person. Registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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