New Organization Seeks to Protect Young Athletes

A new organization announced Thursday that it wants to become the recognized U.S. leader in protecting young athletes. The research-based National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute - a partnership between the American College of Sports Medicine and Sanford Health, an integrated health-care system based in Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D. - will initially focus on four key areas:

• Mild traumatic brain injuries and eating disorders According to the ACSM, the need for the Institute is underscored by a new poll that shows 91 percent of Americans believe sports participation is important for children and adolescents, and 94 percent agree more needs to be done to ensure the health and safety of youth sports participants. These concerns have been fueled by reports of heat illness, concussion, undiagnosed heart conditions and other issues affecting athletes of all ages. A new website will provide information, links and evidence-based resources for young athletes, medical professionals and others involved in youth sports.

"There has been a disturbing trend in the youth sports industry," Michael Bergeron, executive director of the NYSHSI and director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance at Sanford Health, told Fox's nutrition and health expert Felicia Stoler. "We are seeing an increase in injuries that have never been seen before in children and teens. ... Over the last two months, 14 kids have already died - half from heat-related causes, the other half from cardiac issues. It used to be that two or three kids died each year. Something needs to change."

The National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute will be under the guidance of a leadership board composed of recognized individuals from across the nation with extensive clinical and scientific expertise, as well as a passion for youth sports and the health and safety challenges facing young athletes.

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