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Ask the Expert

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Summer sports safety suggestions

Posted: July 15, 2008 12:40 a.m.
Updated: September 15, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Many medical experts say one of the main reasons sports-related injuries have increased over the years is because children are not getting enough calcium.

The problem is exacerbated by poor nutrition due to the popularity of sodas and caffeinated drinks that could deplete calcium in the body.

The National Institutes of Health reports more than 90 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys ages 9 to 13 have inadequate calcium intake.

"These statistics are alarming and continue to grow," says Dr. Andres Smith, emergency room physician at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in the San Diego area.

"This age group is at the most critical time for bone growth, and parents must address the issue of calcium deficiency with their active children or face serious consequences in the emergency room."

Experts recommend a diet rich in calcium and that children get at least one hour of physical activity every day.

Jumping rope is a particular effective method of building strong bones because it stresses the bones, causing their building cells to turn on.

Other safety tips include:
- Before participating in a sport or athletic camp, children should receive physical exams from their pediatricians to determine their general health. 
- Children should always wear sport-specific, properly fitting safety gear when participating in sports-related activities.
- Parents should make sure children are enrolled in the proper age-group or skill level of their particular activity.
- Parents should make sure kids play in a safe environment like rinks, courts and fields that are free from debris or cracks that could cause injury.
- Parents or coaches should provide children with the adequate training or exercises when learning a new sport.

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