When it comes to injury rates, youth flag football may not be safer than tackle football after all, researchers suggest.

Researchers from the University of Iowa Health Care, who investigated injury rates in youth football leagues, find that injuries are more likely to occur in youth flag football than in youth tackle football. In addition, severe injuries and concussions were not significantly different between leagues.

In their study that involved three large youth football leagues with almost 3,800 participants, the researchers compared the number of injuries, severe injuries, and concussions in players competing on flag football teams and tackle football squads.

The team notes that although the number of injuries in youth football players is relatively low overall, but sports-related injuries remain the leading cause of injury among children and adolescents.

“We wanted to test the hypothesis that not allowing tackling might reduce the risk for injury in young athletes,” says Andrew Peterson, MD, a specialist with UI Sports Medicine and the study’s lead author, in a media release from University of Iowa Health Care. “Based upon our results, we cannot conclude that youth flag football is safer than youth tackle football.”

“We hope that this information will help families as they make decisions about a child’s participation in youth football, either in flag or tackle leagues, Peterson adds.

The results of the study are published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

[Source(s): University of Iowa Health Care, Science Daily]