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Heat injury in youth sport
  1. Stephen W Marshall*
  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
  1. Correspondence to: Stephen W Marshall, Department of epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dept of Epidemiology, CB#7435, McGarvan-Greenberg Hall, Chapel Hill, 27599-7435, United States; smarshall{at}unc.edu

Abstract

Heat injury is a potentially lethal condition that is considered to be completely preventable. Fatal heat injury is relatively rare (0.20 per 100,000 player-seasons in US high school football) and there are very limited data on non-fatal incidence. Expert recommendations for prevention include gradual acclimatization of youth athletes to hot conditions, reductions in activity in hot and humid conditions, wearing light and light-colored clothing, careful monitoring of athletes for signs of heat injury to facilitate immediate detection, having the resources to immediately and rapidly cool affected athletes, and education of athletes, caregivers, and coaches about heat injury. Although a base of observational case data, physiological information, and expert opinion exists, the science surrounding this field is devoid of health communication and health behavior research, and there is a pressing need for analytic studies to evaluate intervention programs and/or identify new risk factors. There is also a need for ongoing data collection on heat injury incidence and on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors towards heat injury among youth athletes, their caregivers, and their coaches.

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