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Study: ACL Injuries on the Rise for Kids

New research finds that ACL tears have been increasing each year over the past two decades.

young boys playing soccer closeup of legs Shutterstock
Participating in sports has so many benefits for kids—it increases their physical activity, promotes teamwork, and can boost your kiddo's confidence. But of course, there's always the risk of injuries—some more serious than others.

One of the more serious sports injuries is an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear. Now, a new study notes that the number of kids and adolescents requiring treatment for ACL tears has increased steadily over the past two decades.

An ACL tear can occur by overextension of the knee or from a sudden force hitting the knee while the leg is straight or slightly bent. If the ligament is torn, it cannot heal properly on its own and typically requires surgery.

The study's team of researchers collected information from one insurance company's bills from 1994 through 2013. The study, which will be presented at the 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition, concluded that ACL tears among individuals 6 to 18 years of age increased 2.3 percent every year over that 20-year period.

Experts believe the spike in injury is due to more children and adolescents playing sports—and at a higher level—than 20 years ago.

"We hope these findings will help foster discussion both about how changes in pediatric athletic participation over the past 20 years may be impacting injury rates and how we can best develop youth injury prevention programs and athletic participation guidelines," said Marc A. Tompkins, M.D., in the study's press release.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

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