• Study links tackle football before age 12 to accelerated brain damage symptoms

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    CHARLOTTE - A new study from researchers at Boston University finds that the earlier children start playing tackle football, the earlier they show serious symptoms of brain damage.

    The study will be published online in the Annals of Neurology here

    The study focused on 211 athletes who were diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or other brain diseases after their deaths. The study found “those who began tackle football before age 12 had an earlier onset of cognitive, behavior and mood symptoms by an average of 13 years.”

    The study is the latest linking CTE, a debilitating brain disease that can cause a range of symptoms including memory loss, with youth football.

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    Among the athletes studied, researchers found an earlier onset of cognitive problems for each year younger the athlete began playing tackle football. 

     “Every one year younger that the individuals began to play tackle football predicted earlier onset of cognitive problems by 2.4 years and behavioral and mood problems by 2.5 years,” the report states.

    Researchers compared the effects of exposure to tackle football to those of children being exposed to lead-based paints at a young age. 

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