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New study suggests youth football creates greater risk of health problems

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--A recent study on brain injuries and contact sports is impacting the perspectives of local parents. 

We've been warned before but now we have even more disturbing details about brain injuries and contact sports.

Recent research has shown the serious long-term effects that tackle football can have on a player's brain.

A recent study published in Nature Magazine's journal called Translational Psychiatry, revealed that children who participate in tackle football before the age of 12 may have double the risk of behavioral problems and triple the chance of suffering severe depression later in life.

It's a frightening indication and has local parents thinking even more about the risks of contact sports.

For now, Craig Winter's children -- Cora and Lennon -- are happy with a day at the park. But as they get older, the games they play become more intense and more dangerous. Something Winter is already thinking about.

"I'd have a hard time, unless he really really wanted to. Pretty much any other sport, even like hockey isn't quite as bad. I'd prefer baseball or something like that," said Grand Forks resident, Craig Winter.    

And according to research conducted by Boston University's CTE center, it might be best to keep youngsters out of football.

Their study suggests that consequences of playing football before the age of 12 could cause behavioral and mood disorders, like depression and lack of interest and emotion.

"The earlier the trauma, the more potential to damage," said Altru Neurologist Dr. Matt Roller.

Dr. Roller welcomes this research, hoping it will open the eyes of parents.

"I think it is a very important issue. A lot of recent research has been done about it. I think the media exposure is resulting in more attention and I think ultimately it's helping a lot of people avoid in the future potential complications. And again a lot more research needs to be done,” said Dr. Roller.

And Dr. Roller isn't just speaking as a physician.

"As a neurologist and interestingly as a former football coach as well, I would agree with the recommendation that contact football should be limited to certain ages. And 14 years of age would be a reasonable age to limit exposures based upon the current research,” said Dr. Roller.

Something Winter plans on doing to make sure his kids don't end up as another statistic.

"It's not a great, it's not great numbers,” said Winter.

Within youth football there have been a number of rule changes and equipment advances and research has shown that these are lessening the amount of brain trauma players are receiving.

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